United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment. Dkt. ## 18, 29. For the
reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's motion for summary judgment and
DENIES Plaintiff's motion for summary
basic facts of this matter are not in dispute. See
Dkt. # 29. Plaintiff requested records from the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) that identify flights and
reasons for allegedly low-altitude flight plans near and
around a specific address in Mill Creek, Washington. Dkt. # 1
(Complaint) at 10. The FAA searched for records but was
unable to identify any responsive results because the agency
could not conduct searches based on specific locations.
See Dkt. # 22 (Elkins Decl.) at ¶¶ 7-10.
exhausted his administrative appellate resources and
therefore brought the matter to this forum. Plaintiff seeks
relief in the form of his requested records, as well as an
injunction preventing the agency from “relying on
invalid practices and regulations when dealing with future
FOIA requests.” Dkt. # 1 (Complaint) at 7.
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving
party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving
party will have the burden of proof at trial, it must
affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact
could find other than for the moving party. Soremekun v.
Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir.
2007). On an issue where the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial, the moving party can prevail merely
by pointing out to the district court that there is an
absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's
case. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving
party meets the initial burden, the opposing party must set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of
fact for trial in order to defeat the motion. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The court
must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000).
the court need not, and will not, “scour the record in
search of a genuine issue of triable fact.” Keenan
v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see
also, White v. McDonnel-Douglas Corp., 904 F.2d 456, 458
(8th Cir. 1990) (the court need not “speculate on which
portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it
obliged to wade through and search the entire record for some
specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's
claim”). The opposing party must present significant
and probative evidence to support its claim or defense.
Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co.,
952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991). Uncorroborated
allegations and “self-serving testimony” will not
create a genuine issue of material fact. Villiarimo v.
Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir.
2002); T.W. Elec. Serv. V. Pac Elec. Contractors
Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).
U.S.C. § 552 requires government agencies to disclose
certain records to those who request them. See 5
U.S.C. § 552(a)(3)(A). If an agency improperly withholds
records, complainants may bring suit in federal court.
See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). An agency
satisfies its burden with regard to a records request if it
demonstrate that it has conducted a “search reasonably
calculated to uncover all relevant documents.” Further,
the issue to be resolved is not whether there might exist any
other documents possibly responsive to the request, but
rather whether the search for those documents was adequate.
The adequacy of the search, in turn, is judged by a standard
of reasonableness and depends, not surprisingly, upon the
facts of each case. In demonstrating the adequacy of the
search, the agency may rely upon reasonably detailed,
nonconclusory affidavits submitted in good faith.
Zemansky v. U.S. E.P.A., 767 F.2d 569, 571 (9th Cir.
1985) (citing Weisberg v. United States Dept. of
Justice, 745 F.2d 1476, 1485 (D.C. Cir. 1984)).
January 10, 2017, Plaintiff requested records related to
flight patterns surrounding his home and neighborhood. Dkt. #
1 (Complaint) at 10. His requests included a search for
“[a]ny and all records of aircrafts flown in Snohomish
County, WA over address 13810 12th Dr. SE Mill Creek, WA
98012 and surrounding neighborhoods from July 1, 2016 to
present date.” Id. The balance of his requests
related to the aircrafts, flight patterns, and reasons for
flights over “this location.” Id.
received Plaintiff's records request. Dkt. # 20 (Taylor
Decl.) at ¶ 7. The FAA determined that its Air Traffic
Organization (ATO) was best suited to respond to
Plaintiff's requests. Id. at ¶ 8.
Plaintiff's address is within the Western Service Area
(WSA) of the ATO, ...