United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
EDD D. WHEELER, Plaintiff,
HARRY MAHAR, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Administration, DAVID T. DONAHUE, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, JONATHAN ROLBIN, Director, Office of Passport Legal Affairs and Law Enforcement Liaison, U.S. Department of State, CHIEF OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUESTS, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Passport Services, Law Enforcement Liaison Division, U.S. Department of State, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants Harry Mahar, David
T. Donahue, Jonathan Rolbin, and the Chief of Freedom of
Information Act Requests' (collectively,
“Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss  (the
“Motion”). Also before the Court is
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Designation of the Defendants
, Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Final
Answer to Defendants' Reply for Dismissal  and
Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment .
April 7, 2017, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed
his Complaint  pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act
(“FOIA”) seeking private passport, travel, and
other records relating to former President Barack Obama from
the U.S. State Department. Plaintiff alleges he submitted
three FOIA requests, dated January 18, 2017, March 2, 2017,
and March 13, 2017 requesting “documents relating to
application by Barack Hussein Obama for a U.S. passport, or
issuance of U.S. passport to him, from 1978-1982” and
“any information on the passport used by Mr. Obama
during the summer 1981 . . . .” (Compl. at 3).
30, 2017, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss 
arguing (1) Plaintiff named the wrong party defendants and
(2) Plaintiff's failure to comply with agency regulations
requiring him to obtain written authorization from living
third party individuals, in this case, former President
Barack Obama, amounted to a failure to exhaust his
administrative remedies. (Motion at 4-9). On June 7, 2017,
Plaintiff filed his Response  stating (1) he would amend
his Complaint “to specify [Defendants] by Office, e.g.,
Office of Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for
Administration” and (2) arguing his request for
passport records is a “reasonable request for
information of legitimate public interest.” (Response
at 2-3). On June 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend
Designation of the Defendants .On June 19, 2017, Defendants
moved to strike Plaintiff's Final Answer to
Defendants' Reply for Dismissal . On July 26, 2017,
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment .
Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must “assume that
the factual allegations in the complaint are true and give
the plaintiff the benefit of reasonable factual
inferences.” Wooten v. Quicken Loans, Inc.,
626 F.3d 1187, 1196 (11th Cir. 2010). Although reasonable
inferences are made in the plaintiff's favor,
“‘unwarranted deductions of fact' are not
admitted as true.” Aldana v. Del Monte Fresh
Produce, N.A., 416 F.3d 1242, 1248 (11th Cir. 2005)
(quoting S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist. v. Montalvo, 84
F.3d 402, 408 n.10 (1996)). The Court also is not required to
accept as true conclusory allegations and legal conclusions.
See Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d
1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010) (construing Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)); see also White v.
Bank of America, NA, 597 Fed.Appx. 1015, 1018 (11th Cir.
2014) (“[C]onclusory allegations, unwarranted
deductions of facts or legal conclusions masquerading as
facts will not prevent dismissal.”) (quoting Oxford
Asset Mgmt., Ltd. V. Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). Mere “labels and conclusions”
are insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). This requires more than
the “mere possibility of misconduct.” Am.
Dental, 605 F.3d at 1290 (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679). The well-pled allegations must “nudge
their claims across the line from conceivable to
plausible.” Id. at 1289 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
Pro Se Plaintiff Standard
filed his Complaint pro se. “A document filed
pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro
se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held
to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). Nevertheless, a pro se plaintiff must comply
with the threshold requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Beckwith v. Bellsouth Telecomms.
Inc., 146 Fed.Appx. 368, 371 (11th Cir. 2005).
“Even though a pro se complaint should be
construed liberally, a pro se complaint still must
state a claim upon which the Court can grant relief.”
Grigsby v. Thomas, 506 F.Supp.2d 26, 28 (D.D.C.
2007). “[A] district court does not have license to
rewrite a deficient pleading.” Osahar v. U.S.
Postal Serv., 297 Fed.Appx. 863, 864 (11th Cir. 2008).
requires a federal agency, upon a request for records that
reasonably describes documents held by that agency, to make
those documents promptly available to any person unless the
information within the records is protected from disclosure
by a statutory exemption. See 5 U.S.C. §
552(a)(3), (b); see also Allen v. EEOC, 366
Fed.Appx.. 972, 973 (11th Cir. 2010). If a district court
finds that the agency failed to make a properly requested
document available, the court may “enjoin the agency
from withholding agency records and . . . order the
production of any agency records improperly withheld from the
complainant.” See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a) (4)
to FOIA, an agency must make records available to an
individual “upon any request for records which (i)
reasonably describes such records and (ii) is made in
accordance with published rules stating the time, place, fees
(if any), and procedures to be followed.” See
5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(3)(A). “‘An agency's
disclosure obligations are not triggered . . . until it has
received a proper FOIA request in compliance with its
published regulations.'” Strunk v. United
States, 693 F.Supp.2d 112, 114 (D.D.C. 2010) (quoting
Antonelli v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 591 F.Supp.2d
15, 26 (D.D.C. 2008)). A plaintiff may only file suit in a
district court to compel an agency to disclose records after
the plaintiff has exhausted administrative remedies; that is,
after the plaintiff has filed a proper FOIA request to no or
to little avail. Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365,
1367-68 (11th Cir. 1994) (“The FOIA clearly requires a
party to exhaust all administrative remedies before seeking
redress in federal ...