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Bigwood v. Defense Intelligence Agency

March 30, 2010

JEREMY BIGWOOD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document Nos.: 17, 20, 23

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS;DENYING AS MOOT THE DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS IN THE ALTERNATIVE FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT;DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the defendant's motions*fn1 to dismiss or, in the alternative, for partial summary judgment and the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. This case arises under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552, the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701 et seq., and the Declaratory Judgment Act ("DJA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2201, and concerns the defendant's processing of the plaintiff's requests for records relating to Colombian paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño. Because the court concludes that the plaintiff's FOIA claims are time-barred and because the plaintiff concedes the dismissal of his APA and DJA claims, the court grants the defendant's motions to dismiss, denies as moot the defendant's motions in the alternative for partial summary judgment and denies the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND*fn2

On April 23, 2001, the plaintiff submitted a FOIA request ("the 2001 request" or "the initial request") to the defendant seeking "any and all records relating to paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño." Compl. ¶ 6. The defendant sent the plaintiff a letter dated April 26, 2001, acknowledging receipt of the request, id. ¶ 7, but it was not until December 16, 2004 that the defendant notified the plaintiff that a preliminary search had located over 4,000 potentially responsive documents, id. ¶ 8, and asked that the plaintiff consider narrowing the scope of his request, Pl.'s Cross-Mot. at 2. The plaintiff declined to narrow his request. Id. Having received no documents by March 14, 2005, the plaintiff submitted a request ("the 2005 submission") for expedited processing of his initial request. Compl. ¶ 9. The defendant denied the plaintiff's request for expedited processing on March 28, 2005, id. ¶ 10, which the plaintiff administratively appealed on April 25, 2005, id. ¶ 11. On September 2, 2005, the defendant denied the plaintiff's appeal. Id.

The plaintiff filed suit on August 18, 2008, alleging violations of the FOIA, the APA and the DJA. See generally id. The defendant filed its two motions to dismiss or, in the alternative, for partial summary judgment on July 31, 2009 and August 21, 2009, respectively. See generally Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Partial Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mot."); Def.'s 2d Mot. to Dismiss to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Partial Summ. J. On September 1, 2009, the plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment and opposition to the defendant's motion. See generally Pl.'s Cross-Mot. for Summ. J. & Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. ("Pl.'s Cross-Mot."). As all motions are fully briefed, the court now turns to the applicable legal standards and the parties' arguments.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)*fn3

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and the law presumes that "a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288-89 (1938); see also Gen. Motors Corp. v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (noting that "[a]s a court of limited jurisdiction, we begin, and end, with an examination of our jurisdiction").

Because "subject-matter jurisdiction is an 'Art[icle] III as well as a statutory requirement[,] no action of the parties can confer subject-matter jurisdiction upon a federal court.'" Akinseye v. District of Columbia, 339 F.3d 970, 971 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (quoting Ins. Corp. of Ir., Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982)). On a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992).

Because subject matter jurisdiction focuses on the court's power to hear the claim, however, the court must give the plaintiff's factual allegations closer scrutiny when resolving a Rule 12(b)(1) motion than would be required for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim. Macharia v. United States, 334 F.3d 61, 64, 69 (D.C. Cir. 2003); Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F. Supp. 2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001). Thus, the court is not limited to the allegations contained in the complaint. Hohri v. United States, 782 F.2d 227, 241 (D.C. Cir. 1986), vacated on other grounds, 482 U.S. 64 (1987). When necessary, the court may consider the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced ...


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