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DBW Partners, LLC v. USPS, No. 18-3127, 2020 WL 2064082 (D.D.C. Apr. 28, 2020) (Contreras, J.)


DBW Partners, LLC v. USPS, No. 18-3127, 2020 WL 2064082 (D.D.C. Apr. 28, 2020) (Contreras, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning USPS's Postage Reseller Program and Negotiated Service Agreements

Disposition:  Granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion for summary judgment; granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  "The Court . . . evaluates USPS OIG's filings and production for compliance with FOIA and ultimately concludes that the agency's updated justifications are generally sufficient to carry its burden under FOIA."  Previously, "[t]he Court rejected [plaintiff's] initial argument that the Whitepaper had to be disclosed."  "It was clear that the Postal Reorganization Act exempted at least some of its contents from disclosure."  "The Court agreed, however, that the USPS OIG had not adequately justified the heavily redacted document that was produced to the Plaintiff."  The court finds that "[t]here is no strict level of detail that an agency must provide when explaining its segregability review, so long as the explanation provided is 'sufficient to explain the reasons for [the agency's] withholding and segregation decisions.'"  "USPS has explained that it reviewed each portion of the document for segregable material and that it has produced what it could."  "For the most part – with exceptions stemming from the Court's in camera review addressed below – this suffices to carry the agency's burden on segregability."  Additionally, specifically responding to plaintiff's objection concerning the standard nature of defendant's segregability explanations, the court finds that "[s]o long as an agency relies on 'commonalities, not generalities,' repetitive justifications for withholdings may nonetheless be sufficiently detailed."  However, "[t]he Court has also conducted an in camera review of an unredacted version of the Whitepaper."  "[T]he Court was able to identify several cleanly segregable portions for which [defendant's] declaration does not adequately justify nondisclosure."  The court finds that some segregable information is not exempt and some segregable information is already public.
  • Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declaration:  The court relates that "[t]he Postal Service had two options in response to the Court's order:  either to provide more detailed explanations or to reveal more (or all) of the contents of the Whitepaper, if the Postal Service thought it appropriate to do so."  "[Plaintiff] may have hoped that the agency would take the latter route, but, considering that the agency chose the former, it is hard to see how it could have complied with the Court's order without making some novel statements about the contents of the Whitepaper."  "These added particulars do not amount to a change in the agency's overall position suggestive of shifting rationales or bad faith."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declarations
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Updated May 27, 2020