United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT NEW
MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS' MOTION FOR
matter comes before the Court upon Defendant New Mexico
Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS)'s Motion for
Summary Judgment and supporting memorandum, filed January 17,
2017. (Docs. 18 and 20). NMDWS also filed an Affidavit of
Elizabeth A. Garcia on January 17, 2017. (Doc. 19). On March
1, 2017, NMDWS filed a Supplemental Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. 22). The filings are collectively referred to
herein as the “Motion for Summary Judgment.”
Pursuant to the Supplemental Notice of Completion filed March
14, 2017, the time for Plaintiff to respond has expired and
the motion is now fully briefed. (Doc. 23).
argues in the Motion for Summary Judgment that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact regarding Plaintiff
Eddie Beagles' claims against NMDWS and NMDWS is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law. (Doc. 18) at 1. Having
considered the arguments and applicable law, the Court grants
the Motion for Summary Judgment. NMDWS is dismissed entirely
from this matter and its name shall be stricken from the
caption of this case.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he submitted a request to
NMDWS pursuant to the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records
Act (IPRA) and that “Defendant George Watkins”
breached his duty to respond to the request within 15 days.
(Doc. 1-2) at 5. NMDWS argues that Plaintiff actually
submitted four IPRA requests and NMDWS staff properly
answered each of Plaintiff's requests. (Doc. 20) at 3.
Moreover, NMDWS notes that NMDWS has never employed anyone by
the name George Watkins and that no one by that name ever had
any responsibility for answering IPRA requests. Id.
to NMDWS, Elizabeth Garcia was the designated custodian for
responding to IPRA requests on behalf of NMDWS at the time in
question. Id. at 3-4. In her affidavit, Ms. Garcia
stated that NMDWS received four IPRA requests from Plaintiff
and she responded on behalf of NMDWS to each of
Plaintiff's requests as described in greater detail
below. (Doc. 19).
Plaintiff's first IPRA request was dated September 30,
2013. Id. at ¶ 4. NMDWS received the request on
October 4, 2013, and sent its response the same day, stating
that it did not have any of the records Plaintiff requested.
Plaintiff's second IPRA request was dated October 15,
2013. Id. at ¶ 5. NMDWS received the request on
October 16, 2013. Id. NMDWS sent its response on
October 30, 2013, informing Plaintiff that additional time
was needed but that the agency would respond no later than
November 15, 2013. Id. at ¶ 7. On November 13,
2013, NMDWS sent a letter informing Plaintiff that it did not
possess many of the documents he requested, but that the
documents that were in its possession would be made available
to Plaintiff at a cost of $6.00. Id. at ¶ 9.
Plaintiff paid the fee on November 21, 2013, evidenced by a
dated receipt. Id. at ¶ 10. The requested
records were then mailed to Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff
never indicated to Ms. Garcia or anyone else at NMDWS that he
did not receive the requested records in the mail.
Id. at ¶ 11.
Plaintiff's third IPRA request was dated October 25,
2013. Id. at ¶ 6. NMDWS responded to the
request on October 30, 2013, declaring that it did not have
any of the documents Plaintiff described in his request.
Id. at ¶ 8.
Plaintiff's final IPRA request was dated June 22, 2014.
Id. at ¶ 12. NMDWS responded on July 16, 2014,
informing Plaintiff that the requested records had been
copied at a cost of $89.75. Id. at ¶ 13.
Plaintiff paid the costs and received a receipt dated July
23, 2014. Id. at ¶ 14. The records were mailed
to him. Id. Again, Plaintiff never indicated to Ms.
Garcia or anyone else at NMDWS that he did not receive the
requested records in the mail. Id. at ¶ 15.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate if the moving party shows that
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Once the moving party meets
its initial burden and demonstrates the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact, the burden then shifts to the
nonmoving party to set forth specific facts to establish that
a genuine issue exists for trial. See Schneider v. City
of Grand Junction Police Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 767
(10th Cir. 2013). A dispute over a material fact is
“genuine” only if “the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court views
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party
and draws all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving
party's favor. Tabor v. Hilti, Inc., 703 F.3d
1206, 1215 (10th Cir. 2013).
NMDWS (as the party seeking summary judgment) has carried its
burden of identifying and demonstrating the absence of
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). NMDWS carried this burden by
showing a clear record of its receipt of Plaintiff s requests
and its subsequent response to each of those IPRA requests.
Therefore, as the party opposing summary judgment, Plaintiff
then bears the burden of setting forth specific facts showing
a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at
250. The bare allegations in Plaintiffs Complaint, even
viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are simply
insufficient to demonstrate a genuine dispute as to any
material fact. Moreover, Plaintiff provided no factual or
legal argument to dispute the claims NMDWS made in its Motion
for Summary Judgment. D.N.M. LR-Civ. 7.3. Indeed, the
documentation before the Court plainly contradicts Plaintiffs
claim that NMDWS failed to respond to his IPRA request.
Furthermore, Plaintiff does not challenge NMDWS determination
to withhold documents under the claimed exceptions, and there
is no indication prior to filing this lawsuit that Plaintiff
attempted to complain about the lack of production or appeal
the NMDWS's determination about which documents to
produce. For all these reasons, the Court finds that summary
judgment should be granted in favor of NMDWS.
ORDERED that the New Mexico Department of Workforce
Solutions' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted. Thus,
summary judgment is entered in favor of NMDWS. NMDWS will be
dismissed entirely from this ...