FOIA Advisor

Q&A: FOIA statute of limitations

Q&A (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q.  I submitted a FOIA request back in 2001 and more than 75% of the records were "blacked out."  I then filed an administrative appeal, which was denied [also in 2001].  How do I go about requesting judicial review?  

A.  You may not file a lawsuit based upon the agency's adverse determination in 2001, because the statute of limitations is six years.  See 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2401(a).  You may, however, submit a duplicate request at any time, re-appeal any withholdings, and then file a lawsuit within six years.  See Spannaus v. U.S Dep't of Justice, 824 F.2d 52, 61 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (commenting that appellant, who had missed the deadline to file a lawsuit, could "simply refile his FOIA request tomorrow and restart the process").