Flete-Garcia v. United States Marshals Service

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FULVIO FLETE-GARCIA, Plaintiff, v. Civil Action No. 18-2442 (RDM) UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICE, Defendant. MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Plaintiff Fulvio Flete-Garcia is a federal prisoner who was at one point housed at Massachusetts Correctional Institution Cedar Junction at Walpole (“MCI Cedar Junction”) in South Walpole, Massachusetts. Defendant United States Marshals Service (“USMS”) is a component of the Department of Justice tasked with a variety of court-related duties, including the transportation of federal detainees. See 28 U.S.C. § 566. In July 2018, Plaintiff submitted two duplicative requests to the USMS for records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq. The first request sought the dates and times of Plaintiff’s transportation between MCI Cedar Junction and the federal courthouse between May 4, 2015 and January 17, 2018 and specified that the records could be located at MCI Cedar Junction, Dkt. 28 at 6; the second request sought the same records but specified that they were located at the USMS’s office in Washington, D.C., Dkt. 1 at 10. In response to the first request, the USMS contacted its Prisoner Operations Division (“POD”) to seek responsive records and searched one database. POD located no responsive records. Dkt. 28 at 2 (Krieger Decl. ¶ 6). The database turned up five responsive pages, id. (Krieger Decl. ¶ 7), and the USMS redacted personal information prior to releasing those pages to Plaintiff on or about October 19, 2018, Dkt. 19-4. Upon receiving Plaintiff’s second request, the USMS determined that the request was duplicative of the first, and because the USMS had already responded to the first request, it took no further action with respect to the second. Id. at 2 (Krieger Decl. ¶¶ 10–13). After Plaintiff brought suit, however, the USMS asked its District Office for District of Massachusetts whether that office possessed any potentially responsive records; the office responded that searching for responsive documents there would be futile. Id. at 3 (Krieger Decl. ¶ 13). On October 3, 2018, prior to the USMS’s release of the five pages it deemed responsive, Plaintiff filed the instant action, alleging that Defendant violated FOIA by inadequately searching for and withholding records responsive to his request. Dkt. 1. The USMS’s motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, Dkt. 20, and Plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment, Dkt. 25, are now before the Court. For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the USMS’s motion for summary judgment and will deny Plaintiff’s cross-motion without prejudice. I. BACKGROUND On or about July 12, 2018, Plaintiff sent his first FOIA request to the USMS. Dkt. 1 at 2, 6–7. That request sought “records indicating the dates, days and the times [he] was transported [to] the Federal Court House for court appear[a]nces from May 4, 2015 to January 17, 2018,” and indicated that “[t]he records [requested] can be found at the[] following federal deten[t]ion center[]: MCI C[edar] J[unction] [at] ...

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