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Agolli v. Office of Inspector General

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

August 31, 2015

ANNA MARIA AGOLLI, Plaintiff
v.
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          ANNA MARIA AGOLLI, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC.

         For OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. Department of Justice, Headquaters; U.S. Department of Justice, Washington Field Office, Defendant: Jodi George, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.

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         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Anna Maria Agolli filed suit against the Office of Inspector General (" OIG" ) of the United States Department of Justice (" DOJ" ), challenging the agency's handling of certain Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ) requests that she had filed, which appear to pertain to a complaint that she had previously filed with OIG. At the outset, the Court notes that, in Defendant's [20] Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and for Summary Judgment, which is now before the Court, Defendant construed Plaintiff's complaint--which is far from a modicum of clarity--as containing only FOIA claims. In her Opposition to Defendant's motion, Plaintiff states that she is not only bringing this action under FOIA but under " any applicable law" because she is seeking damages in this action. Pls.' Mem. of Points & Authorities, ECF No. 27, at 1. Plaintiff acknowledges that money damages--which she seeks--are not available under FOIA, but indicates no other basis for damages in relation to a FOIA request. Moreover, insofar as Plaintiff purports to challenge the handling of the underlying complaint previously filed with OIG--rather than the agency's subsequent handling of the FOIA requests--Plaintiff identifies no legal basis for doing so or for seeking damages with respect to any such claim. With this understanding, the Court addresses Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for summary judgment. In that motion, Defendant argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over all but one of the claims in Plaintiff's complaint because Plaintiff failed to file this action within the six-year statute of limitations for FOIA claims. With respect to the remaining claim, regarding Plaintiff's 2014 FOIA request, Defendant argues that summary judgment is warranted because the agency adequately responded to that request.[1]

         Upon consideration of the pleadings,[2] the relevant legal authorities, and the record

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as a whole, the Court GRANTS Defendant's [20] Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and for Summary Judgment. The Court concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over all of Plaintiff's claims other than the claim regarding the 2014 FOIA request because Plaintiff failed to file this action within the six-year jurisdictional statute of limitations for FOIA claims. With respect to the final claim--regarding the 2014 FOIA request--the Court concludes that summary judgment for the agency is warranted. Insofar as Plaintiff purports to bring any other claims in this action, those are dismissed as well. The Court dismisses this case in its entirety.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 20, 2006, Plaintiff submitted to OIG a 25-page FOIA request that requested all OIG documents pertaining to Plaintiff.[3] Declaration of Marie Waller, Government Information Specialist and FOIA Officer, Office of the Inspector General (" Waller Decl." ), ECF No. 20-1, ¶ 6. OIG conducted an electronic search of its records stored in its investigations case management system to determine whether the agency had any documents responsive to Plaintiff's request. Id. ¶ 7. Based on its search, OIG located only one document that it considered responsive to Plaintiff's request--the OIG complaint form associated with Plaintiff's initial complaint--other than the documents that Plaintiff herself submitted to the agency. Id. By letter dated June 22, 2006, OIG released the complaint form to Plaintiff. See Waller Decl., Ex. 2. The released form was redacted in order to withhold the name of the law enforcement officer who received information from Plaintiff and who prepared the complaint form. See id.

         Following the agency's response to Plaintiff's FOIA request, a series of administrative appeals ensued:

o Plaintiff filed her first administrative appeal to the DOJ Office of Information Policy (" OIP" ) on August 18, 2006 (Appeal No. 06-2846). Declaration of Priscilla Jones, Supervisory Administrative Specialist, Office of DOJ Information Policy (" Jones Decl." ), ECF No. 20-2, ¶ 3.
o By letter dated November 28, 2006--apparently independent of the pending appeal--OIG released in full Plaintiff's initial FOIA request to her. See Waller Decl. ¶ 9.
o By letter issued December 18, 2006, OIP directed OIG to release all documents Plaintiff sent to the agency and affirmed the agency's decision to withhold the name of the law enforcement agent. See id., Ex. 4. (December 18, 2006, letter from OIP).
o On or about January 26, 2007, Plaintiff filed a second administrative appeal (Appeal No. 07-0560) with respect to the OIG's response dated November 28, 2006. Jones Decl. ¶ 4. OIP responded to that appeal on or about February 23, 2007, remanding to OIG for an additional search. Id. ¶ . On September 7, 2007, OIG provided to Plaintiff--without redactions--407 pages of documents that Plaintiff submitted to OIG. Waller Decl. ¶ 13.

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o Plaintiff attempted to file a third administrative appeal on or about November 5, 2007, with respect to OIG's September 7, 2007, response (Appeal No. 08-0238). Jones Decl. ¶ 5. OIP closed this appeal as a duplicate on or about November 7, 2007, without sending a response to Plaintiff. Id.

         After OIG's response to Plaintiff sent in September 2007, OIG did not receive any new appeals remanded from OIP pertaining to Plaintiff, and OIG did not receive any new FOIA requests from Plaintiff. Waller Decl. ¶ 19.

         On May 9, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to OIP via letter which requested all correspondence between her and OIP. Declaration of Vanessa R. Brinkmann (" Brinkmann Decl." ), ECF No. 20-3, ¶ 3, Ex. A. In response to Plaintiff's request, OIP conducted a search of its FOIA/Privacy Act tracking systems, using the search term " Agolli," between 1987 and the date of the search. Id. ¶ 5. As a result of the search, OIP located four administrative appeals, including the three aforementioned appeals and an appeal closed on July 7, 2003 (AP-2003-01872 (FBI)). Id. The agency discovered that, due to the age of those files, they had been destroyed " in accordance with the applicable records retention schedules." Id. Because Plaintiff specifically mentioned that she had corresponded with Michael Sherman, a former OIP employee, OIP also conducted a search of Sherman's e-mail archives using the search term " Agolli." Id. ¶ 6. OIP located 37 pages of e-mail correspondence between Sherman and Plaintiff. Id. By letter dated October 24, 2014, OIP provided a final response to Plaintiff's FOIA request, providing the 37-pages of the e-mail correspondence with Sherman, without redaction. Id. OIP also informed Plaintiff that the contents of her previous appeals had been destroyed in accordance with the applicable records retention schedules and that copies of the correspondence maintained as part of those records were no longer available. Id. ¶ 8, Ex. C.

         Plaintiff filed this action on June 6, 2014. Subsequently, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for summary judgment. That ...


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