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Powell v. Internal Revenue Service

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 29, 2016

WILLIAM E. POWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, Defendant.

          Anthony P. Patti, United States Magistrate Judge

         OPINION AND ORDER: (1) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF NO. 60); (2) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (ECF NO. 55); (3) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 45); AND (4) DISMISSING THIS ACTION WITH PREJUDICE

          PAUL D. BORMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff William E. Powell's Objections to Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti's April 20, 2016 Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 55, Report and Recommendation.) The Report and Recommendation recommended that this Court grant Defendant Internal Revenue Service's January 20, 2016 Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 45.) Plaintiff filed an Objection to the Report and Recommendation dated May 3, 2016 (ECF No. 56) and thereafter sought permission to resubmit his objection with exhibits (ECF No. 57). Defendant then filed a Response to Plaintiff's Objection. (ECF No. 58.) Thereafter, this Court granted Plaintiff's request to resubmit his objection with exhibits (ECF No. 59) and Plaintiff re-filed his objection with exhibits (ECF No. 60). Defendant then filed a supplemental response to Plaintiff's objection with exhibits (ECF No. 62) and Plaintiff filed a reply (ECF No. 64).

         This Court reviews de novo the portions of a report and recommendation to which objections have been filed. 28 U .S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Having conducted a de novo review of the parts of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which valid objections have been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court will deny Plaintiff's objections, adopt the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment, and dismiss this action with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 19, 2015, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant. (ECF No. 1.) On April 28, 2015, this Court granted Plaintiff's request to file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 9.) This action second of three actions Plaintiff filed against Defendant seeking to compel Defendant to comply with his requests for certain tax documents pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. See Powell v. IRS (Powell I), case no. 2:14-cv-12626 (E.D. Mich.) (judgment entered on Sept. 9, 2015), and Powell v. IRS (Powell III), case no. 2:15-cv-11616 (E.D. Mich.) (judgment entered on Sept. 30, 2016). In the present action, Plaintiff seeks documents related to a December 4, 2014 request for tax documents and, as asserted in the amended complaint, documents related to requests dated February 26, 2015, March 2, 2015, and April 10, 2015. (ECF No. 9, Am. Compl., at 2-8.)

         Defendant filed the present motion for summary judgment on January 20, 2016. (ECF No. 29.) Defendant contended that summary judgment should be granted because:

(1) [P]laintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to any of his denied requested Items;
(2) [P]laintiff did not follow the Service's FOIA regulations for some of his requested Items;
(3) with respect to some of [P]laintiff's proper FOIA requested Items, the Service conducted a reasonable search but did not locate any responsive records, or
(4) if responsive records were located (and were not exempt from disclosure under the FOIA) the Service properly released those records to [P]laintiff.

(ECF No, 55, at *2, quoting ECF No. 45, at *9.)

         As detailed in this Court's contemporaneously filed opinion and order denying Plaintiff's “Motion to Resubmit Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment” (ECF No. 65, at *2-3) and in the underlying Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 55, at *3), Plaintiff failed to file a timely conforming response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Thus, Defendant's motion for summary judgment was unopposed. The Court notes, however, that the Magistrate Judge was careful to acknowledge that “a district court cannot grant summary judgment in favor of a movant simply because the adverse party has not responded. The court is required, at a minimum, to examine the movant's motion for summary judgment to insure that he has discharged that burden.” (ECF No. 55, at *4, quoting Carver v. Bunch, 946 F.2d 451, 455 (6th Cir. 1991)).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court conducts a de novo review of the portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which a party has filed “specific written objections” in a timely manner. Lyons v. Comm'r Soc. Sec., 351 F.Supp.2d 659, 661 (E.D. Mich. 2004). Only those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir.1986). “The parties have the duty to pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that the district court must specially consider.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A general objection, or one that merely restates the arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge. An “objection” that does nothing ...


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