Brustein & Manasevit v. Dep't of Educ., No. 13-0714, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43960 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2014) (Jackson, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning DOE computer program, "State and Local Educational Agencies Risk Model," used to identify state and local education agencies at risk of misusing federal funds
Disposition: Denying defendant's motion to dismiss on mootness grounds; granting defendant's motion for summary judgment
- Litigation Considerations, Mootness and Other Grounds for Dismissal: The court holds that "[d]efendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint on mootness grounds must be denied." The court notes that "[i]t is undisputed that DOE has produced fully the documents that it had originally withheld." However, the court finds that "the production of documents in the context of a FOIA case does not automatically render the case moot, because, as explained above, the plaintiff may still hold 'a cognizable interest' in having a court determine the adequacy of the agency's search for records." The court holds that "[g]iven Plaintiff's insistence that additional responsive documents must exist and that therefore the released records have not been provided after an adequate search . . . the Court concludes that Plaintiff has a cognizable interest in having this Court determine whether the Defendant's search for records was adequate."
- Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search: The court concludes that "because Defendant has carried its burden of showing that it conducted a reasonable and adequate search for responsive records, and because Plaintiff has provided no reason for the Court to conclude otherwise, the Court will grant Defendant's motion and enter summary judgment in its favor." The court finds that "the declarations of [defendant]--which are presumed to have been submitted in good faith and are entitled to great weight--are sufficient to carry Defendant's burden of showing that it conducted 'a search reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents[.]'"