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Houser v. HHS, No. 16-0804, 2017 WL 4150871 (D.D.C. Sept. 15, 2017) (Walton, J.)


Houser v. HHS, No. 16-0804, 2017 WL 4150871 (D.D.C. Sept. 15, 2017) (Walton, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning plaintiff and corporate entities plaintiff once controlled

Disposition:  Denying defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying  plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment, and plaintiff's motion to strike

  • Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declaration:  "In the absence of clear explanations for the agency's decisions, the Court cannot determine whether CMS has fulfilled its obligations under the FOIA."  The court finds that first, "[i]t is not clear whether CMS received the plaintiff's additional letters, and if it did receive them, the declarant does not explain whether or how CMS responded to them."  "Second, the declarant does not indicate whether or how CMS responded to the plaintiff's requests for expedited processing of his FOIA request and for a waiver of the search fees."  "Third, the plaintiff's FOIA request was long and seemingly complex[]" and "[t]he declarant does not explain how CMS interpreted the request, why CMS transmitted the plaintiff's FOIA request to [a particular] office, whether it searched for records pertaining to all of the corporate entities identified in the plaintiff's FOIA request, or whether or why its search was limited to the three skilled convalescent facilities."  "Fourth, although the declarant explains CMS's reasons for referring the FOIA request to its contractor . . . the declarant states in a conclusory manner that [the contractor] conducted a search for responsive records[.]'"  "Fifth, CMS relies on FOIA Exemption 6 to justify its decision to withhold beneficiaries' identification numbers from Excel spreadsheets."  "Missing from the declaration, however, is any description of what these identification numbers represent, or anything more than a conclusory statement that their disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the beneficiaries' personal privacy."  "Sixth, the declarant does not indicate that all reasonably segregable information has been released."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declarations
Updated December 8, 2021