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Erwin v. Dep't of State, No. 11 C 6513, 2013 WL 6452758 (N.D. Ill. December 9, 2013) (Feinerman, J.)

Re: Request for plaintiff's employment records Disposition: Granting defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment
  • Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection:  The court finds that "[plaintiff] has failed to establish that an in camera review is warranted due to bad faith on [defendant's] part."  The court explains that "[plaintiff] provides no legal authority for the proposition that over-production qualifies as bad faith for purposes of obtaining in camera review in a FOIA case" and "[i]n any event, [defendant] did not over-produce."
  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court finds that "[t]he supplemental affidavit adequately describes the searches conducted within Diplomatic Security."  The court summarizes that "[i]n holding that [defendant's] first attempt to explain the Department's search was insufficient, the court explained that while '[defendant] adequately described the searches conducted within [the Department's Bureau of] Human Resources and Medical Services,' '[t]he same cannot be said for [defendant's] description of the search conducted within [the Bureau of] Diplomatic Security.'"  "In particular, the court faulted the affidavit for 'fail[ing] to describe with any level of specificity what searches were conducted within [Diplomatic Security's] components and which documents were found.'"  However, now the court finds that "the supplemental affidavit identifies the four components of Diplomatic Security that were reasonably likely to have responsive documents" and "[t]he supplemental affidavit then details how each component was searched and which, if any, responsive documents were found in each component."
  • Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index:  The court holds that "[t]he Vaughn index . . . included in [defendant's] supplemental affidavit remedies [previous] flaws, and the affidavit itself . . . otherwise adequately supports [defendant's] claimed exemptions." 
  • Exemption 7, "Law Enforcement Purpose":  The court finds that "[defendant's] background check of [plaintiff] satisfies Exemption 7's 'law enforcement purposes' requirement."  The court also finds that "Exemption 7 applies regardless of whether law enforcement action is taken."
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  The court holds that "the updated Vaughn index describes the information withheld in detail and explains with sufficient particularity why [defendant] withheld the entire document."  The court explains that "[g]iven the presumption that [defendant] has satisfied its duty to disclose reasonably segregable information—a presumption [plaintiff] fails to overcome—the court finds that [defendant] has met its obligation."
Court Decision Topic(s)
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
District Court opinions
Exemption 7
Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection
Litigation Considerations, Supplemental to Main Categories
Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declarations
Updated August 6, 2014