United States District Court, D. Columbia
MICHAEL FRANCIS, Plaintiff, Pro se, Indianapolis, IN.
JAY FRANCIS, Plaintiff, Pro se, Indianapolis, IN.
FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY, Defendant: Eric Joseph
Young, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington,
BROWN JACKSON, United States District Judge.
Federal Housing Finance Agency (" FHFA" ) is an
independent agency within the U.S. government that oversees
the Federal National Mortgage Association (" Fannie
Mae" ), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (also
known as Freddie Mac), the Federal Home Loan Banks, and other
components of the secondary mortgage market. In 2014,
plaintiffs Michael and Carmen Francis ("
Plaintiffs" ) submitted to FHFA a request under the
Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 ("
FOIA" ), seeking documents regarding the mortgage on
their residential property located at 4904 Winston Drive,
Indianapolis, IN. In particular, Plaintiffs sought documents
that would show if Fannie Mae--which has been under FHFA
conservatorship since 2008--had assigned Plaintiffs'
mortgage and the associated note to another entity. (Compl.,
ECF No. 1, ¶ 5.) In its response to the FOIA request,
FHFA indicated that the agency was unable to locate any
responsive records. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 8-9.) Plaintiffs
filed the instant lawsuit on September 29, 2014, claiming
that FHFA is wrongfully withholding agency records in
violation of the FOIA, and requesting an order compelling
FHFA to search for, and produce, all non-exempt, responsive
records, and to provide Plaintiffs with a Vaughn index of
records that FHFA claims are subject to FOIA exemptions. (
See id. at 5.)
this Court at present is FHFA's Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 6 at 1-2). The agency argues that it
conducted an adequate search for records in response to
Plaintiffs' FOIA request ( see Mem. in Supp. of
Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 6 at 4-11 ("
Def.'s Br." ), at 4), and with respect to the
responsive documents in Fannie Mae's possession, FHFA
argues that it does not control Fannie Mae's records and,
therefore, cannot be faulted for not searching those records
and producing that entity's documents. ( Id. at
9.) In response, Plaintiffs maintain that FHFA's search
was inadequate because Plaintiffs have located documents on
Fannie Mae's website and have received documents from
Fannie Mae that they deem responsive to their FOIA request.
(Pls.' Mem. in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J.,
ECF No. 10 (" Pls.' Br." ), at 6-7.)
consideration of the parties' submissions, the relevant
authorities, and the record as a whole, this Court concludes
that FHFA conducted an adequate search that satisfies the
agency's FOIA obligations. Consequently, Defendant's
motion for summary judgment must be GRANTED. A separate order
consistent with this memorandum opinion will follow.
was established as an independent agency of the federal
government on July 30, 2008. (Decl. of Frank R. Wright, ECF
No. 6-2 (" Wright Decl." ), ¶ 5.) FHFA ensures
that the entities it regulates, including Fannie Mae, "
operate in a financially safe and sound manner; remain
adequately capitalized; and comply with their respective
authorizing statutes, as well as all rules, regulations,
guidelines and orders issued under law." ( Id.
¶ 6 (citing 12 U.S.C. § 4513(a).) Despite its role
in overseeing the mortgage industry, FHFA has represented
that it " does not, in the ordinary course of business,
maintain any documents relating to individual mortgage
loans." ( Id. ¶ 9.)
authorized to act as a conservator for, and to oversee,
certain regulated entities, and when it operates in such a
capacity, FHFA can take actions " (i) necessary to put
the regulated entity in a sound and solvent condition; and
(ii) appropriate to carry on the business of the regulated
entity and preserve and conserve the assets and property of
the regulated entity." 12 U.S.C. § 4617(b)(2)(D).
FHFA placed Fannie Mae into conservatorship in 2008; however,
Fannie Mae has continued its normal business operations since
that time. (Wright Decl., ¶ 7.) Consequently, FHFA has
not " incorporated [Fannie Mae's records] into any
of [FHFA's] systems of records" and " does not
consider the records of Fannie Mae . . . to be agency records
for the purposes of FOIA[.]" ( Id. ¶ 10.)
Thus, FHFA asserts that it " does not have the
capability to conduct a search of [Fannie Mae's] records
for responsive documents[.]" ( Id. )
August 1, 2014, Plaintiffs submitted a FOIA request to FHFA
seeking " all documents containing information regarding
property in interest located at 4904 Winston Drive,
Indianapolis, Indiana and acquired by Accubanc on October 26,
1994[,]" including " [t]he name, loan number and
all mortgage pool numbers, trust, and other pertinent
information in Fannie Mae's possession including the
legal entity name of unknown investors from November 1, 1994
to October 2, 2002." (Compl. ¶ 5.) On August 7,
2014, FHFA responded to the FOIA request, informing
Plaintiffs that its search of agency files had not unearthed
any responsive documents. ( Id. ¶ 8.) The
agency also advised Plaintiffs " that FHFA's
temporary role as conservator of [Fannie Mae] does not
transform [Fannie Mae's] company records into 'agency
records' subject to FOIA." ( Id. )
Plaintiffs appealed this determination, and asked that the
agency answer the following question: " Did Fannie Mae
assign the original note and mortgage of Francis' primary
residence (subject to sell and proceeds going to the secure
creditor Chase) to EMC Mortgage ...