Associated Press v. Dep't of State, No. 15-345, 2016 WL 6476932 (D.D.C. Nov. 1, 2016) (Leon, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning State Department's 2011 decision to enter into negotiated civil settlement with BAE Systems PLC
Disposition: Granting defendant's and defendant-intervenors' motions for partial summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment
- Exemptions 3, 5, 6 & Procedural Requirements, "Reasonable Segregable" Obligation: The court "agree[s] with the State Department's legal arguments for withholding information pursuant to FOIA Exemptions 3, 5, and 6, and [the court] find[s] that the State Department appropriately applied those exemptions to the sample documents." "Furthermore, [the court] find[s] that State produced all reasonably segregable information contained in the sample documents that was not subject to a statutory exemption and that no further non-exempt material is subject to release in the sample documents."
- Exemption 4: "[The court] find[s] that the State Department properly withheld information pursuant to FOIA Exemption 4." "[The court] find[s] that BAES was not required to submit the documents to the State Department, that the State Department lacked the authority to compel their production, and that the submitted documents are therefore subject to the 'voluntary' standard." Additionally, "[u]pon reviewing the motions, the Vaughn index, and the documents themselves, [the court] find[s] that the withheld information meets that standard, since it 'is of a kind that would customarily not be released to the public' by BAES, and is therefore appropriately withheld." "Nevertheless, even if the documents at issue were provided to State involuntarily, [the court finds that] the withheld information would still meet the higher standard . . . as disclosure of the withheld documents at issue would either hinder the government's ability to obtain similar information in future settlement negotiations, or would likely cause substantial competitive harm to BAES."