Hooker v. Department of Veterans Affairs
ORDERED: Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Order at Doc. 24 27 is DENIED. Signed by Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell on 11/17/2022. (JDE)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CARLTON EUGENE HOOKER, JR.,
Case No: 8:22-cv-956-CEH-MRM
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion for Relief from Order
at Doc. 24 under Rule 60(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. 27. In
the motion, Plaintiff requests relief from the Court’s Order denying as moot Plaintiff’s
motion to compel records. The Government filed a response in opposition. Doc. 29.
The Court, having considered the motion and being fully advised in the premises, will
deny Plaintiff’s Motion for Relief from Order at Doc. 24 under Rule 60(b)(3) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Plaintiff, Carlton Eugene Hooker, Jr., who is proceeding pro se, initiated this
action on April 22, 2022, by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Complaint
under 5 U.S.C. § 552, et seq. Doc. 1. In his Complaint, Plaintiff outlines five FOIA
requests he made to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on December 17, 19, 20,
23, 2021 and January 4, 2022. Id. Plaintiff’s Complaint seeks a Court Order instructing
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the VA to turn over “14 documents totaling 35 pages, 4 surveillance videos and 11
audio recordings.” Id. at 7. He also requests to be reimbursed for the cost of filing this
lawsuit. Id. On July 1, 2022, the VA answered Plaintiff’s FOIA Complaint and
admitted that Plaintiff made a FOIA request but denied that Plaintiff was entitled to
compel the production of the documents as they were properly withheld due to a
pending investigation related to Plaintiff’s trespass citation. Doc. 17. That
investigation is now concluded.
On July 23, 2022, Plaintiff filed a Second Motion for Court Order Demanding
Release of Improperly Withheld Records Not Under FOIA Exemption 7(A). 1 Doc.
22. Plaintiff supplemented his second motion to provide a Rule 3.01(g) certification
indicating that the VA communicated by email that it was producing the records to
Plaintiff rendering his motion moot. Doc. 23-1. Given the updated conferral
certification reflecting that the VA was going to produce the requested records, the
Court denied the motion as moot. Doc. 24. It is from this order that Plaintiff seeks
relief based on “fraud and misrepresentation.” Despite acknowledging that he received
the requested records from the VA, Plaintiff argues that some of the records have been
redacted and he has discovered that there are more than the 14 documents totaling 35
Plaintiff’s first motion to compel release of records (Doc. 20) was denied for failing to comply
with M.D. Fla. Local Rule 3.01(g). Doc. 21.
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The Government responds in opposition arguing that Plaintiff is once again
abusing the Rule 60 process by filing baseless motions.2 Doc. 29. Further, the VA states
that all requested documents were produced by the VA on July 25, 2022, and again on
August 5, 2022, rendering this action moot. The VA explains that Plaintiff’s receipt of
unredacted versions of documents in the criminal trespass case is irrelevant here given
the different statutory obligations in criminal discovery versus an agency’s FOIA
Motions for reconsideration under Rule 60(b) are appropriate only where there
is “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect,” newly discovered evidence,
fraud, a void judgment, or a judgment that has been satisfied or is no longer applicable.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b); see also Am. Bankers Ins. Co. of Fla. v. Nw. Nat.’l Ins. Co., 198 F.3d
1332, 1338 n.4 (11th Cir. 1999). “A motion for reconsideration must demonstrate why
the court should reconsider its prior decision and ‘set forth facts or law of a strongly
convincing nature to induce the court to reverse its prior decision.’” Florida Coll. of
Osteopathic Med., Inc. v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 12 F. Supp. 2d 1306, 1308 (M.D.
Fla. 1998) (quoting Cover v. Wal–Mart Stores, Inc., 148 F.R.D. 294, 295 (M.D. Fla.
1993)). Plaintiff fails to demonstrate any fraud occurred here or to provide any legal
basis why the court should reconsider its prior decision. Accordingly, it is
The Court notes that Plaintiff has now been labeled a vexatious litigant in this District due
to his continued baseless and repeated filings. See Hooker v. Covington, et el., 8:22-cv-1862-TPBJSS (Aug. 22, 2022 M.D. Fla.).
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Plaintiff’s Motion for Relief from Order at Doc. 24 (Doc. 27) is
DONE AND ORDERED in Tampa, Florida on November 17, 2022.
Counsel of Record
Carlton Hooker, Jr., pro se
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