Charles v. Office of the Armed Forces Med. Exam'r, No. 09-199, 2013 WL 5467115 (D.D.C. Oct. 2, 2013) (Jackson, J.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Re: Request for records concerning "certain autopsy and medical records for soldiers killed in combat" Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment
  • Exemption 5 & Segregability: The court finds that defendants properly withheld preliminary autopsy reports in full.  The court notes that it previously "concluded that the final autopsy reports in the instant case are not exempt from disclosure; therefore, if the preliminary autopsy reports are also produced, a realistic opportunity for comparison of the draft to the final exists."  The court notes that defendants demonstrated that "there is, in fact, a comparison to be made because the preliminary and final autopsy reports can differ significantly."  The court is thus persuaded that "by establishing that the facts and information in a preliminary [Armed Forces Medical Examiner] autopsy report often differ from that of the final report, Defendants have shown that 'factual information is often added, altered, or deleted from these records before the autopsy report is finalized, such that comparison of a preliminary autopsy report . . . and final autopsy report would reveal the agency's decisionmaking process.'"  Accordingly, the preliminary reports are not segregable and were properly withheld in full.
District Court
Exemption 5
Updated August 6, 2014