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Braun v. USPS, No. 18-2914, 2022 WL 602445 (D.D.C. Mar. 01, 2022) (Sullivan, J.)

Date

Braun v. USPS, No. 18-2914, 2022 WL 602445 (D.D.C. Mar. 01, 2022) (Sullivan, J.)

Re:  Request for certain records from USPS OIG

Disposition:  Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  "Here, the Agency has demonstrated that it has met its FOIA obligations by conducting an adequate and reasonable search for responsive records from the CRIMES database."  "The Agency argues that its 'interpretation of [plaintiff's] request was reasonable and consistent with the government's obligation ‘to construe a FOIA request liberally.'"  "It further argues that it 'has met its burden of showing that it complied with FOIA by providing 'a reasonably detailed affidavit, setting forth the search terms and the type of search performed, and averring that all files likely to contain responsible materials (if such records exist) were searched.'"  "Having 'made a prima facie showing of adequacy, the burden [then] shifts to plaintiff to provide . . . evidence sufficient to raise "substantial doubt" concerning the adequacy of the agency's search.'" Plaintiff, "however, offers no argument to dispute the adequacy of the Agency's search."  "The Court's review of the record does not raise substantial doubt about the adequacy of the Agency's search."  "Upon review of the two affidavits, the Court concludes that they are reasonably detailed, they have set forth the type of searches performed and the search terms used, and they have explained why the files that were searched were likely to contain responsive materials."  "Accordingly, the Court concludes that the Agency's search is adequate under the standard of reasonableness."
     
  • Exemption 7(C):  "Pursuant to FOIA Exemption 7(C), the Agency withheld the identities of the law enforcement personnel who prepared the reports that were disclosed to [plaintiff] in three pages of the records disclosed."  "In view of the role of the USPS OIG, the Court concludes that the [Exemption 7] threshold requirement has been met."  The "'[Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit] decisions have consistently supported nondisclosure of names or other information identifying individuals appearing in law enforcement records, including investigators, suspects, witnesses, and informants.'"  "Redaction of the names of federal law enforcement officers and support personnel under similar circumstances has been routinely upheld."  "Pursuant to the mandatory authority in this Circuit, the Court concludes that the Agency properly withheld under Exemption 7(C) the identities of the law enforcement personnel in light of the privacy interest the personnel have in nondisclosure of their identities and the lack of a significant public interest in the identities of the personnel."
     
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Obligation:  "The record establishes that the only information that has been redacted are the identities of law enforcement personnel."  "Accordingly, the Court concludes that the Agency has satisfied its segregability obligations under FOIA."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(C)
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Procedural Requirements, “Reasonably Segregable” Obligation
Updated March 21, 2022