Justice v. Mine Safety and Health Admin., No. 13-14438, 2016 WL 1241539 (S.D. W. Va. Mar. 29, 2016) (Copenhaver, Jr., J.)
Re: Request for records concerning complaint filed by plaintiff
Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment
- Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege: "The court concludes that MSHA has met its burden regarding its decision to withhold the portions of the first and second inspector [memoranda of interviews (MOIs)] redacted under Exemption 5." First, "[t]he court has found, and the parties do not dispute, that the inspector MOIs are predecisional." Second, the court relates that defendant states that portions of these documents are "deliberative because each contains 'specific opinion testimony related to the investigation,' and 'includes the opinions of MSHA inspectors regarding the merits of [plaintiff's] [MSHA] complaint.'"
- Exemption 7(C): The court holds that "MSHA has met its burden regarding the redactions made under Exemption 7(C)." The court first finds that "[t]he parties do not dispute that the MOIs were compiled for law enforcement purposes." Second, the court finds that "[plaintiff] has provided no explanation as to how the names or titles of low-level MSHA inspectors would reveal information about the government's operations." "The 'negligible,' 'non-existent' public interest in disclosure of the agents' names or titles would be outweighed even by 'a very slight privacy interest.'" "It is heavily outweighed by the 'not insubstantial' interest the MSHA inspectors have in the non-disclosure of their names and titles."