United States District Court, District of Columbia
DEREK N. JARVIS, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Defendant.
G. SULLIVAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Derek N. Jarvis brings this action under the Freedom of
Information Act (“FOIA”), see 5 U.S.C.
§ 552, against the Commissioner of Social Security
(“SSA”). This matter is before the court on
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 10]. For the
reasons discussed below, the court grants the motion.
submitted two FOIA requests to the SSA. The first he sent to
SSA's office in Gwynn Oak, Maryland, seeking “all
document(s) relating to, and pertaining to Derek N. Jarvis .
. . as a result of [SSA's] rejecting [his] disability
claims for (9) years, while mostly Caucasian Claimants
receive disability from SSA for much lesser medical
conditions[.]” Compl., Ex. (Letter to SSA from
plaintiff dated December 23, 2016).
notified plaintiff that his request properly should be
directed to SSA's field office in Seabrook, Maryland
because it “has the jurisdiction of his disability
applications and application related records.” Mem. of
P. & A. in Support of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss
(“Def.'s Mem.”), Ex. 4 (“Chyn
Decl.”) ¶ 7; see id., Ex. 1 (Letter to
plaintiff from Mary Ann Zimmerman, Acting Privacy Officer,
SSA, dated February 28, 2017).
though [plaintiff] failed to address [his] request for
information to the Seabrook, Maryland SSA address, ”
SSA “prepared a copy of [its] electronic file on a CD
for [plaintiff] and sent it to him via UPS on January 18,
2018[.]” Id., Ex. 2 (“Cassetta
Decl.”) ¶ 4.
second FOIA request, plaintiff sought:
information that establishes the percentage of blacks who
are awarded and rejected disability benefits, and the
percentage of whites who are awarded and rejected disability
benefits, and in addition to that . . . any information
regarding illegal immigrants awarded benefits
Id., Ex. (Letter to SSA from plaintiff dated
December 29, 2016). SSA informed plaintiff that it does
“not keep records of disability awards and denials
based on race or immigration status.” Def.'s Mem.,
Ex. 3 (Letter to plaintiff from Monica Chyn, Acting Freedom
of Information Officer, SSA, dated May 12, 2017);
see Cassetta Decl. ¶ 4. SSA advised plaintiff
of his right to challenge this determination by filing an
administrative appeal in writing to the Executive Director
for the Office of Privacy and Disclosure. Def.'s Mem.,
Ex. 3. SSA found “no indication that [plaintiff] filed
an appeal of [its] responses to his December 23 and/or 29,
2016 FOIA request(s).” Chyn Decl. ¶ 9.
Summary Judgment Standard
case typically and appropriately is decided on a motion for
summary judgment. See, e.g., Gold Anti-Trust Action
Comm., Inc. v. Bd. of Governors of the Fed. Reserve
Sys., 762 F.Supp.2d 123, 130 (D.D.C. 2011) (citations
omitted). Summary judgment is granted when there is no
genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). In
determining whether a genuine issue of fact exists, the court
must view all facts in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Under
FOIA, all underlying facts and inferences are analyzed in the
light most favorable to the FOIA requester; as such, only
after an agency proves that it has fully discharged its FOIA
obligations is summary judgment appropriate. Moore v.
Aspin, 916 F.Supp. 32, 35 (D.D.C. 1996) (citing
Weisberg v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 705 F.2d
1344, 1350 (D.C. Cir. 1983)).
reviewing a motion for summary judgment under FOIA, the court
conducts a de novo review of the record. See 5
U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). The court may award summary
judgment solely on the basis of information provided by the
agency in an affidavit or declaration. See Military Audit
Project v. Casey, 656 F.2d 724, 738 (D.C. Cir. 1981). An
agency's affidavit or declaration must be
“relatively detailed and non-conclusory.”
SafeCard Services v. SEC, 926 F.2d 1197, 1200 (D.C.
Cir. 1991) (citation omitted). It is accorded a presumption
of good faith, which cannot be rebutted by “purely
speculative claims about the existence and discoverability of
other documents.” Id. (citing Ground
Saucer Watch, Inc. v. CIA, 692 F.2d 770, 771 (D.C. Cir.
1981) (per curiam)).
Exhaustion of ...