United States District Court, District of Columbia
N. MCFADDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Count II of its Amended Complaint, the American Center for
Law and Justice alleges that the Department of State has a
pattern or practice of violating the Freedom of Information
Act by “intentionally refusing to issue a
determination, produce documents and/or respond in any manner
required by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6) unless and until
Plaintiff files suit.” Am. Compl. ¶ 78. State
moves to dismiss this count, contending that ACLJ has failed
to plead enough facts to make its claim plausible, and that
even if so, the allegations are not outrageous enough to
warrant relief under Payne Enterprises, Inc. v. United
States, 837 F.2d 486 (D.C. Cir. 1988). Def.'s
Partial Mot. Dismiss or to Stay Proceedings at
8-15. After initially dismissing an
inadequately-pleaded version of this claim, Am. Ctr. for
Law & Justice v. United States Dep't of State, 249
F.Supp.3d 275, 281-82 (D.D.C. 2017) (ACLJ I),
another judge in this district has already upheld the
sufficiency of substantially identical allegations. Am.
Ctr. for Law & Justice v. United States Dep't of
State, 254 F.Supp.3d 221, 223 (D.D.C. 2017) (ACLJ
II). Seeing no need to reinvent the wheel, I deny
State's Partial Motion to Dismiss for the same reasons.
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “A claim crosses from conceivable to plausible
when it contains factual allegations that, if proved, would
‘allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.'” Banneker Ventures, LLC v.
Graham, 798 F.3d 1119, 1129 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (alteration
omitted) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In this
inquiry, a court must “draw all reasonable inferences
from those allegations in the plaintiff's favor.”
out a valid pattern or practice claim under FOIA, a plaintiff
“must allege, inter alia, facts establishing that the
agency has adopted, endorsed, or implemented some policy or
practice that constitutes an ongoing ‘failure to abide
by the terms of the FOIA.'” Muttitt v.
Dep't of State, 926 F.Supp.2d 284, 293 (D.D.C. 2013)
(quoting Payne, 837 F.2d at 491); see also ACLJ
I, 249 F.Supp.3d at 281-82 (summarizing applicable case
law). ACLJ makes such an allegation, claiming that State has
an “impermissible practice, policy, and pattern of
refusing to [comply with FOIA] unless and until Plaintiff
files suit.” Am. Compl. ¶ 85. As Judge Boasberg
has already explained, State's conduct is allegedly more
insidious than delay in “isolated incidents” or
the challenge of an “enlarged FOIA docket, ”
ACLJ II, 254 F.Supp.3d at 226, instead resulting
from a systemic failure to remedy staffing, training, and
management issues identified by their own Inspector General
in 2012 and 2016. Id. at 225; Am. Compl.
¶¶ 46-59. Despite State's arguments to the
contrary, ACLJ has sufficiently alleged a pattern of
violating FOIA akin to the “persistent refusal”
to comply with the law that justified equitable intervention
in Payne. 837 F.2d at 494. Accordingly, the Amended
Complaint satisfies the pleading standards of Iqbal
these reasons, Defendant's Partial Motion to Dismiss or
to Stay Proceedings is hereby DENIED.
 Defendant also seeks a stay pending
the D.C. Circuit's decision in Judicial Watch, Inc.,
v. United States Dep't of Homeland Security, No.
16-5339. However, the pattern-or-practice claim in that case
appears to bear only limited factual similarities to the
claims made against State. See Judicial Watch, Inc. v.
United States Dep't of Homeland Sec., 211 F.Supp.3d
143, 146 (D.D.C. 2016) (“[Plaintiff] points to no fact
or statement to establish why the requests were
delayed or how the delays were the result of an
either formal or informal DHS policy”) (emphasis in
original). Accordingly, I find that considerations of
judicial efficiency weigh against a stay.
 However, this is no guarantee of
eventual success. See Am. Ctr. for Law & Justice v.
United States Dep't of State, 2018 WL 623827, at *1
(D.D.C. Jan. 30, 2018) (granting State's subsequent