Gamboa v. EOUSA, No. 12-1220, 2014 WL 4219724 (D.D.C. Aug. 26, 2014) (Leon, J.)

Date: 
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gamboa v. EOUSA, No. 12-1220, 2014 WL 4219724 (D.D.C. Aug. 26, 2014) (Leon, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff

Disposition: Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  "The Court concludes, based on the declarations provided by the EOUSA and the FBI—describing the scope and methods of the searches—that each entity conducted a search reasonably calculated to uncover records responsive to plaintiff's FOIA requests."  "The same cannot be said for the DEA."  "Its declarant does not describe a search at all, and thus, neither plaintiff nor the Court can assess whether its search was reasonable under the circumstances."
     
  • Litigation Considerations:  The court finds that "[p]laintiff raises no objection whatsoever to defendants' decisions to withhold information under FOIA Exemption 7."  "Absent any opposition from plaintiff, and because the Court concludes that defendants have justified their decisions to withhold information under FOIA Exemptions 7(C), 7(D) (express assurance of confidentiality) and 7(E), the Court treats their arguments as conceded."  "As is discussed [further], however, where defendants have not met their burden on summary judgment, specifically the FBI's reliance on Exemption 7(D) (implied assurance of confidentiality) and 7(F), summary judgment must be denied in part."
     
  • Exemption 7, Threshold:  The court "concludes that the declarants of the FBI, CBP and OCDETF readily demonstrate that the relevant records have been compiled for law enforcement purposes and thus fall within the scope of FOIA Exemption 7" by demonstrating "'a rational nexus between [an] investigation and one of the agency's law enforcement duties.'"
     
  • Exemption 7(D):  The court holds that "[t]he FBI fails to demonstrate that it properly withheld information under FOIA Exemption 7(D) with respect to source(s) who provided information to the FBI under an implied assurance of confidentiality."  The court explains that "[m]issing from the declaration is any explanation as to the connection between the source(s) and plaintiff or his criminal activities."  "Nor is there any description of the circumstances which purportedly gave rise to the implication that the source(s) provided information to the FBI only with the understanding that their identities and the information they provided would not be released to the public."
     
  • Exemption 7(F):  The court holds that the "conclusory statement alone cannot support the FBI's decision to withhold information under FOIA Exemption 7(F)" because "[t]he declarant does not 'describe[ ] with sufficient particularity,' . . . the FBI's concern that release of this information will bring about the types of harm the exemption is designed to avoid."  Regarding OCDETF, the court finds that "[a]lthough [its] explanation is slightly more substantial than that offered by the FBI, it too fails to adequately demonstrate a connection between the protected individuals and the purported reasonable expectation that their lives or physical safety will be endangered as a result of disclosure."
     
Topic: 
Adequacy of Search
District Court
Exemption 7
Exemption 7D
Exemption 7F
Litigation Considerations
Updated January 29, 2015