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United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Louis FLORES, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendant-Appellee.


Decided: February 28, 2018

PRESENT: BARRINGTON D. PARKER, PETER W. HALL, RAYMOND J. LOHIER, JR., Circuit Judges. FOR APPELLANT: Louis Flores, pro se, Jackson Heights, NY. FOR APPELLEE: Rukhsanah L. Singh, Assistant United States Attorney (Varuni Nelson, Rachel G. Balaban, on the brief), for Richard Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn, NY.


Appellant Louis Flores, proceeding pro se, appeals from a judgment in favor of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in his lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). Flores alleged that DOJ failed to respond timely to his FOIA request and, when it did respond, failed to provide documents responsive to his request. The district court granted summary judgment to DOJ, concluding that DOJ’s declarations showed that its search was reasonably calculated to uncover responsive documents and that Flores had not made a showing of bad faith. This appeal follows. We assume the parties’ familiarity with the underlying facts, the procedural history of the case, and the issues on appeal.

We review de novo a district court order granting summary judgment in a FOIA action. Wilner v. Nat’l Sec. Agency, 592 F.3d 60, 69 (2d Cir. 2009). The defending agency has the burden of demonstrating that its search was adequate, and declarations showing that “the agency has conducted a thorough search” are sufficient to sustain this burden. Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 812 (2d Cir. 1994). Agency declarations are “accorded a presumption of good faith,” and a FOIA plaintiff seeking discovery “must make a showing of bad faith on the part of the agency sufficient to impugn the agency’s affidavits or declarations or provide some tangible evidence that ․ summary judgment is otherwise inappropriate.” Id. (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). Here, the declarations submitted by DOJ established the adequacy of its search for responsive documents. Flores only speculates that DOJ acted in bad faith. The district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of DOJ on Flores’s FOIA claim.

We have considered all of Flores’s remaining arguments and find them to be without merit. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court for substantially the reasons stated in the magistrate judge’s thorough report and recommendation, which the district court adopted in full.

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