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Kemuel Mingo v. United States Department of Justice et al

June 29, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Beryl A. Howell United States District Judge


U.S.C.In this action brought under the Freedom of Information Act, ("FOIA") 5 ("BOP") response to his request for § 552, the Plaintiff, a federal prisoner, challenges the Bureau of Prisons' video footage. Pending is the Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment [ certain records pertaining to him and ECF No. certain and the Defendants' motion to dismiss 6], for summary judgment [ 12]. one of the two defendants ECF No. and cross-motion submissions and the entire record, and for the following reasons, *fn1 Upon consideration of the parties' the Court will motion to dismiss the defendant deny the Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment BOP and their motion and grant for sum both the Defendants. *fn2


pertaining to him By letter of March 29, 2010, the Plaintiff requested from BOP records on September 26, 2009, at the United States Penitentiary Big Sandy "in regards to" an "SIS investigation" of an incident that occurred Sandy") in Lexington, Kentucky. He also requested "a complete copy of the camera ("USP Big the footage regarding said incident . . .

Dismiss Def. BOP and for Summ. J., Decl. of Denise Gottleib ("Gottlieb Decl.") [ date of [the] incident[.]"*fn3 Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. and and the complete camera footage of Unit Cross C- -Mot. to 4 on ECF No. of information 12-1], Ex. A. and two Following a search for responsive records, video disks. Gottleib Decl. ¶ 7.

BOP located 55 pages information, 1 By letter of June disks in their entirety 9 of which were redacted 14, 2010, BOP released to the Plaint under FOIA exemption 7(C) . BOP withheld 1 iff 37 pages of U.S.C. § 552(b)((7)(C).Id. ¶¶ 13;see88-pages and the two). By letter of June 27, 2010, the Plaintiff appealed that Ex. B (citing 5 video determination to the Office of Information and Privacy ("OIP"), stating that thePl.'s Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 3 [ "agency improperly invoked Exemption (b)(7)(C)additional portions of one page ECF No. 6-3]. By letter of August 20, 2010, . . . to the requested video tapes."OIP released partly modified grounds." Id ., Ex. 5. OIP listed exemptions 2 and 5 as additional otherwise affirmed BOP's action, albeit "on specified reasons, [he] cannot present facts essential to justify [his] opposition," Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d), Civil Procedure 56(d). Because the Plaintiff has not shown "by affidavit or declaration that, for but motion for summary judgment, the Court will deny the Plaintiff's Rule 56(d) motion as moot. and given that he has filed a summary judgment motion and has opposed the Defendants' cross-bases for BOP's withholding of information. September 30, 2010, against the Department of Justice Id The Plaintiff further requests the "names and titles of [USP] Big Sandy Employees in their ("DOJ") and its component, *fn4 . The Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on BOP.


The Defendants move under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss BOP from this action. They argue that FOIA lawsuits may be brought only against the federal agency, not its components, and therefore Dismiss Def. BOP and for Summ. J. Defs that the only proper defendant in this case is DOJ and not its component BOP. .' Mem. in Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for S defendant.") and [ECF No. 12 umm. J. & at in Supp. ] 5. This issue is not settled in of Defs.' Cross-Mot. to this Circuit, however. (D.D.C. 2006) (noting "disagreement [among the district judges] in this Circuit Bureau of Prisons 30, 2011) See Prison Legal News v. Lappin regarding what constitutes an 'agency' as it pertains to the District Court's jurisdiction pursuant to the FOIA.") (citations omitted Holt v. U.S. Dep't of Justice , 436 F. Supp.2d 17, 21-22 ); compare , ___ F. Supp. 2d ___, 2011 WL 1195800, at *5 n.1 Benavides v. (D.D.C. Mar. (Roberts, J.) (In FOIA suit against BOP, "DOJ is an executive agency to which the FOIA applies, and the Court considers the DOJ as the proper party , 734 F. Supp. 2d 28, 33 n.1 (D.D.C. 2010) (Walton, J.) (In FOIA suit against DOJ, BOP and FBI, court noted that " DOJ is an executive agency to which the FOIA applies, and the Court considers the 2011 DOJ as t WL 782028, at *7 he proper party defendant."), with Cloonan v. Holder (D.D.C. Mar. 8, 2011) (Lamberth, J.) (" previously held that naming components as defendants under the Privacy Act is appropriate since the statute's plain language is clear that be a cabinet Tre -level agency such as the DOJ to be liable.") and , 2005 naming components asury ' ___ F. Supp. 2d ___, , [T]his Court has 'an agency need not Lair v. Dep't of WL 645228, at *3 (D.D.C. Mar. 21, 2005) ("as for the propriety of components is proper.") (Lamberth, J.). in [FOIA suit] of executive departments, naming Nevertheless, co-defendant in this action, and the Plaintiff has not contested this part of the the Court will grant the motion to dismiss BOP because DOJ is a 117, Defendants' dispositive motion a named 119 (D.D.C. 2011) See Vazquez v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (finding no "need [to] dwell on the issue". , where 764 F. Supp. 2d DOJ was also defendant).

1.The Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

2. The Parties' Motions for Summary Judgment

A. Legal Standard

dispute Summary judgment is appropriate upon a showing that there is "no genuine law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "[A] material fact is 'genuine' . . . if the evidence is such as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of element of the claim. that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party" on an he FOIA requires a federal agency to release all records responsive to a Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). properly submitted request except those protected from disclosure by one or more of nine enumerated exemptions.

See 5 U.S.C. § 552(b). The agency's disclosure time, place, fees (if any), and procedures to be followed." 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(3)(A). requested] records" and "is made in accordance with published rules stating the obligations are triggered by its receipt of a request that "reasonably describes [the The FOIA authorizes the court only "to enjoin [a federal] agency from withholding withheld from the complainant." 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). Thus, the elements of a agency records or to order the production of any agency records improperly FOIA claim are to devise remedies and enjoin agencies can only be invoked under the jurisdictional : (1) improperly (2) withheld (3) agency records. "Judicial authority obligation." grant conferred by § 552, if the agency has contravened all three components of this (1980).

Kissinger v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press , 445 U.S. 136, 150 obligation to disclose reasonably segregable material." award summary judgment to an agency solely on the information provided in Serv. "Agencies are entitled to a presumption that they complied with the Sussman v. ...

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