United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. Aspen United States District Judge.
Raymond Hughes filed this action against the United States
Department of Justice (“DOJ”), seeking records
pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act
(“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. Presently before
us is DOJ's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's amended
complaint. (Dkt. No. 8.) For the reasons stated below, we
grant DOJ's motion.
to FOIA § 552(a)(4)(B), Plaintiff filed a complaint on
July 25, 2017 seeking the “criminal record of Andrew
Hughes, AKA Andrew Darian from the United States Department
of Justice's criminal data base.” (Compl. (Dkt. No.
1) ¶ 1.) He amended his pleading as a matter of course,
filing an amended complaint on August 15, 2017. (Am. Compl.
(Dkt. No. 7).) The amended complaint alleges “Andrew
Hughes, AKA Andrew Darian holds a Broward County Florida
government position of Personal Representative to the
plaintiff's estate, ” and he has been
“withholding his felonious past from the estate's
heirs, and all interested persons.” (Id.
¶ 1.) Plaintiff asserts Hughes “has a moral
obligation to identify his criminal and fugitive past to the
estate's heirs and all interested persons of the
September 1, 2017, DOJ filed a motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's amended complaint. (Dkt. No. 8.) DOJ contends
that Hughes fails to allege that he previously requested any
records from DOJ, and therefore, his complaint must be
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). (Id.
¶¶1-2.) In the alternative, DOJ argues the amended
complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6). (Id. ¶ 3.)
reviewing a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), we accept as true all
well-pleaded factual allegations and draw reasonable
inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Alicea-Hernandez v. Catholic Bishop of Chi., 320
F.3d 698, 701 (7th Cir. 2003). FOIA confers federal
jurisdiction to enjoin a federal agency “from
withholding agency records and to order the production of any
agency records improperly withheld from the
complainant.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). Pursuant to
FOIA, “federal jurisdiction is dependent upon a showing
that an agency has (1) ‘improperly'; (2)
‘withheld'; (3) ‘agency records.'”
Kissinger v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the
Press, 445 U.S. 136, 150, 100 S.Ct. 960, 968 (1980)
(quoting 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B)). “Judicial
authority to devise remedies and enjoin agencies can only be
invoked, under the jurisdictional grant conferred by §
552, if the agency has contravened all three components of
this obligation.” Id.
amended complaint fails to allege a basis for the court's
jurisdiction. We construe Plaintiff's pro se
complaint liberally. Smith v. Dart, 803 F.3d 304,
309 (7th Cir. 2015); Nichols v. Mich. City Plant Planning
Dep't, 755 F.3d 594, 600 (7th Cir. 2014). However,
even liberally construed, Plaintiff does not allege that he
ever requested his brother's records from DOJ, nor does
he plausibly allege that DOJ withheld the records or that it
did so improperly. In response to DOJ's motion, Plaintiff
states in conclusory terms that he “has exhausted all
avenues with FOIA leaving the only option left to the
Plaintiff, that is to file a complaint in Federal
Court.” (Id. ¶ 3.) He also argues that he
“was advised, in writing, by the DOJ to file a
complaint in Federal Court.” (Id.) Plaintiff
does not provide any further explanation regarding the steps
he has taken to “exhaust all avenues with FOIA”
or regarding the content or circumstances of the alleged
letter from DOJ. Regardless, it remains that Plaintiff has
alleged no facts in his amended complaint supporting an
inference that he made a FOIA request in the first instance,
and he does not allege DOJ failed to provide him with
requested documents for an improper reason. See,
e.g., McClain v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, No.
97 C 0385, 1999 WL 759505, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 1, 1999),
aff'd, 17 F. App'x 471 (7th Cir. 2001)
(dismissing claims where plaintiff failed to allege he made a
FOIA request or that specific records were improperly
withheld by the federal agencies).
we lack subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's
amended complaint, and Defendant's motion is granted,
without prejudice. Kissinger, 445 U.S. at 150, 100
S.Ct. at 968; Kromrey v. U.S. Dep't of Justice,
423 F. App'x 624, 626 (7th Cir. 2011) (“[U]nless
both subject-matter and personal jurisdiction have been
established, a district court must dismiss the suit without
addressing the substance of the plaintiff's
claim.”). To the extent Plaintiff can establish that he
has met the jurisdictional requirements of FOIA as set forth
above, he may file an amended complaint, consistent with this
Order, on or before December 4, 2017.
foregoing reasons, we grant DOJ's motion to dismiss. If
he is able to do so consistent with this Order, Plaintiff may
file an amended complaint on or before December 4, 2017.
Failure to do so will ...