United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
JOHN M. HARDIMON, Plaintiff,
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before me on the defendants motion to dismiss
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). I originally granted to
the motion to dismiss on October 15, 2019. But on October 24,
2019, I vacated the order to reconsider the motion in light
of the response filed by the plaintiff on October 21,
2019. ECF No. . Because the defendants
conducted a reasonable search of their records and determined
there were no documents responsive to Hardimon's Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) request, the motion will be
case, the Plaintiff Hardimon requested all plea agreements
associated with case numbers 3:10-cr-30170-MJR, 11-1821, and
11-2515 pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA). The defendants requested all of the files
associated with the aforementioned cases from the federal
records center in Kansas City, MO. They then searched these
files and were unable to find any responsive documents, aside
from the Plea agreement executed October 1, 2010 and filed on
October 19, 2010, which the plaintiff already had. ECF Nos.
[26-2] and [26-3]. Accordingly, the defendants filed a motion
to dismiss the case as moot.
Article III of the Constitution federal court jurisdiction is
limited to actual cases or controversies that “must be
extant at all stages of review, not merely at the time the
complaint is filed.” Powell v. IRS, 255
F.Supp.3d. 33, 46 (D.D.C. 2017)(quoting Genesis
Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, 569 U.S. 66, 133 S.Ct.
1523, 1528, 185 L.Ed.2d. 636 (2013)). “When, during the
course of litigation, the issues presented in a case
‘lose their life because of the passage of time or a
change in circumstances ... and a federal court can no longer
grant effective relief,' the case is considered
moot.” Haden v. Pelofsky, 212 F.3d 466, 469
(8th Cir. 2000)(quoting Beck v. Mo. State High Sch.
Activities Ass'n, 18 F.3d 604, 605 (8th Cir. 1994)
(alteration in original)). In FOIA cases, mootness occurs
when the requested documents have been produced. Urban v.
U.S., 72 F.3d 94, 95 (8th Cir. 1995).
case, the United States Attorney's office searched all of
their files associated with the named cases. ECF Nos. [26-2]
and [26-3]. These files did not contain any responsive
documents aside from the plea agreement signed on October 1,
2010 and filed on October 19, 2010. ECF Nos. [26-2]. The
plaintiff already had this plea agreement as evidenced by his
use of it in his criminal appeal. ECF No. [26-2]. Since the
plaintiff already has access to the only responsive
documents, the plaintiff's claim is moot.
Plaintiff Hardimon argues in his response to the
defendant's motion to dismiss that the United States
Attorney's Office did not conduct an adequate review of
their files as required by FOIA, it is unavailing. ECF No.
. Under FOIA an agency is required “to review,
manually or by automated means, agency records for the
purpose of locating those records that are responsive to the
request.” 5 U.S.C. §552(a)(3)(D). Generally,
courts require the agency search to be “reasonably
calculated to uncover all responsive documents.”
Miller v. U.S. Dept. of State, 779 F.2d 1378, 1383
(8th Cir. 1985). “But the search need only be
reasonable, it does not have to be exhaustive.”
response, the plaintiff makes conclusory statements that this
search was inadequate, but he does not make any factual
allegations that dispute the adequacy of the search. ECF No.
. Hardimon attempts to argue that the search was
inadequate or performed in bad faith by arguing that
additional plea agreements that are responsive to his request
must exist. ECF No. . But the factual allegations
provided, taken as true, do not establish the existent of
other responsive documents, much less the inadequacy of the
the factual allegations provided by the plaintiff proved that
another plea agreement existed at one time, “the
standard of reasonableness which we apply to agency search
procedures does not require absolute exhaustion of the files;
instead it requires a search reasonably calculated to uncover
the sought materials.” Miller, 779 F.2d.
1384-85. “[T]he Department is not required by the Act
to account for documents which the requester has in some way
identified if it has made a diligent search for those
documents in the places in which they might be expected to be
found; it is not necessary to create a document that does not
exist in order to satisfy a [FOIA] request.”
Miller, 779 F.2d. 1385 (internal citations omitted).
the defendants searched the files associated with the
specified cases, which is where additional plea agreements
would likely be found. ECF No. [26-2] and [26-3]. The fact
that they were unable to find any additional plea agreements
does not render this search inadequate. The search performed
was reasonably calculated to uncover the requested documents.
Since there are no other outstanding document requests, the
case is moot.
defendants conducted a reasonable search of their records.
The plaintiff had access to the only responsive documents.
Since the requested ...