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Sieverding v. United States Dept. of Justice

United States District Court, District of Columbia

December 19, 2012

David and Kay SIEVERDING, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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David Sieverding, Coeur D'Alene, ID, pro se.

Kay Sieverding, Coeur D'Alene, ID, pro se.

Tricia Dianne Francis, U.S. Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN D. BATES, District Judge.

Kay and David Sieverding, proceeding pro se, have sued the United States Department of Justice (" DOJ" or " Department" ) alleging violations of the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a et seq., and several other claims. In March 2012, the Court granted partial summary judgment to DOJ on the entirety of the Sieverdings' Privacy Act claims, and denied their cross-motion

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for partial summary judgment and array of miscellaneous claims. See Sieverding v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 847 F.Supp.2d 75, 88 (D.D.C.2012). Currently before the Court are numerous motions filed by the Sieverdings, as well as the Department's motion to dismiss and alternative motion for summary judgment on Sieverdings' Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ) claims, which are the only claims remaining from the amended complaint.[1] For the reasons detailed below, the Court will grant the Department's motion and deny all but one of the Sieverdings' miscellaneous motions.

BACKGROUND

Given the Sieverdings' extensive litigation history, and the multitude of opinions relaying the facts and background of this case, that information need not be repeated here. The Sieverdings originally sued dozens of individuals and entities in 2002 for damages arising out of a property dispute with their neighbors. See Sieverding v. Colo. Bar Ass'n, 02-M-1950, 2003 WL 22400218, at *1 (D.Colo. Oct. 14, 2003) (" Sieverding I " ). The district court, adopting a magistrate judge's recommendation, dismissed the Sieverdings' complaint in full and the Tenth Circuit affirmed. See Sieverding v. Colo. Bar Ass'n, 469 F.3d 1340, 1342-43 (10th Cir.2006) (" Sieverding II " ). In light of what it described as the Sieverdings' " abusive litigation practices," the district court also imposed filing restrictions on the Sieverdings. Id. at 1344-45 (affirming filing restrictions in part). Kay Sieverding apparently failed to comply with these filing restrictions, and was arrested and jailed for civil contempt several times between 2005 and 2007. See id. at 1343; Sieverding v. Colo. Bar Ass'n, 244 Fed.Appx. 200, 205 (10th Cir.2007). In this case, as they have before, the Sieverdings allege dozens of Privacy Act and other violations stemming from their arrests and incarcerations.[2] See Sieverding v. Am. Bar Ass'n, 439 F.Supp.2d 111 (D.D.C.2006) ( " Sieverding III " ); Sieverding v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 693 F.Supp.2d 93 (D.D.C.2010) (" Sieverding V " ). On March 25, 2011, the Sieverdings filed a suit raising the same issues as addressed here, but they later voluntarily withdrew their claims. See Sieverding v. Dep't of Justice, Civ. Act. No. 11-90 (D.D.C.). This action then was filed, and the Court has dismissed most of the Sieverdings' claims. See Sieverding v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 847 F.Supp.2d 75, 88 (D.D.C.2012) (" Sieverding VI " ). The Department has now filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment to address the remaining FOIA claims. The Sieverdings have also sought

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to file another amended complaint, and have filed several miscellaneous motions.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Because the Department has offered affidavits and exhibits in support of its motion, and the Sieverdings have filed voluminous documentation to support their position, the Court will treat the Department's motion as one for summary judgment. When, on a motion to dismiss, " matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56," and " [a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); see also Yates v. District of Columbia, 324 F.3d 724, 725 (D.C.Cir.2003).

Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings and the evidence demonstrate that " there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The moving party may successfully support its motion by identifying those portions of " the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits" that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548.

In determining whether there exists a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to preclude summary judgment, the court must regard the non-movant's statements as true and accept all evidence and make all inferences in the non-movant's favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A non-moving party, however, must establish more than the " mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505. By pointing to the absence of evidence proffered by the non-moving party, a moving party may succeed on summary judgment. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548. " If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (citations omitted). Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant fails to offer " evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant]." Id. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

ANALYSIS

As this Court previously observed, the Sieverdings' pleadings are " verbose, prolix and virtually impossible to understand." Sieverding V, 693 F.Supp.2d at 101 (citing and quoting Sieverding I, 2003 WL 22400218, at *1); Sieverding VI, 847 F.Supp.2d at 81 (same). And at the outset, the Court again notes that David Sieverding lacks standing to sue on behalf of his wife because " ordinarily, a plaintiff ‘ must assert his own legal interests, rather than those of third parties.’ " See Sieverding VI, 847 F.Supp.2d at 81 (internal citations omitted). Accordingly, any reference hereafter to " Sieverding" or defendant is to Kay Sieverding.

I. FOIA Claims

Sieverding's FOIA claims are found in paragraphs 155 to 160 of her amended complaint and are made against the Department with respect to records she sought from the United States Marshals Service (" USMS" ), the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (" EOUSA" ),

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and the FBI. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 155-60 [ECF No. 5]. Sieverding asserts first that she is entitled to " a list and description of information provided by USMS" in response to her FOIA requests from 2007. Id. ¶ 155. She further complains that she was not provided information she requested from the FBI, USMS, and EOUSA regarding her arrest and detention. Id. ¶¶ 156-60. DOJ argues that dismissal of all these claims is warranted on exhaustion and mootness grounds. Specifically, DOJ claims that Sieverding's FOIA claims regarding searches conducted by USMS and EOUSA should be dismissed because they have not been administratively exhausted ...


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