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Elkins v. FAA, No. 14-476, 2014 WL 4243152 (D.D.C. Aug. 28, 2014) (Boasberg, J.)


Elkins v. FAA, No. 14-476, 2014 WL 4243152 (D.D.C. Aug. 28, 2014) (Boasberg, J.)

Re: Requests for records concerning various airplane flights allegedly monitoring plaintiff

Disposition: Denying defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court holds that "after reviewing the FAA's summary-judgment briefing and . . . [d]eclaration, the Court is left with distinct uncertainty as to whether the agency appreciated the whole of Plaintiff's FOIA request."  The court relates that defendant's "declaration refers only to 'various records' sought by Plaintiff, without further elaboration . . . [a]nd the FAA's Reply indicates that the agency understood Plaintiff's request as limited in scope to records likely to be housed at an airport traffic-control tower."  "Under these circumstances, and in light of the FAA's across-the-board failure to provide the requisite level of detail in justifying its response to Plaintiff's FOIA request . . . the Court is reluctant to accept the blanket attestation in [defendant's] Declaration as definitively establishing the adequacy of the FAA's search."  "It will therefore deny the FAA's Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to this issue."  "The FAA must make clear in any future declaration that the Tampa Airport Traffic Control Tower is the only location that might house records responsive to each one of Plaintiff's enumerated requests."
  • Exemption 7(E):  The court holds that it "cannot discern precisely what material was redacted and, as a result, cannot evaluate the correctness of the FAA's invocation of Exemption 7(E) or engage in the necessary segregability analysis."  Therefore, "[i]n light of the FAA's failure to provide the requisite level of clarity and detail, summary judgment on its withholdings under Exemption 7(E) is unwarranted at this juncture, as is any determination on the propriety of the agency's segregability determination."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(E)
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Updated January 28, 2022