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Lamb v. Millennium Challenge Corp., No. 16-765, 2018 WL 4608224 (D.D.C. Sept. 24, 2018) (Moss, J.)


Lamb v. Millennium Challenge Corp., No. 16-765, 2018 WL 4608224 (D.D.C. Sept. 24, 2018) (Moss, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning plaintiff's background investigation

Disposition:  Granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court holds that "there is ample evidence that the State Department and the MCC conducted adequate searches."  The court finds that "the [State] Department evaluated [plaintiff's] request based on 'the description of the records requested,' IPS's 'familiarity with the holdings of the Department's records systems,' and the 'substantive and functional mandates of numerous Department offices and Foreign Service posts and missions.'"  The court also finds that "MCC[] has filed a supplemental declaration[, required by the court due to one inconsistency,] explaining that the agency 'discovered the inadvertent omission of [a] ROI from the packet' that was initially delivered to [plaintiff], and that it subsequently 'attached the ROI to the responsive records and mailed the complete packet to [plaintiff].'"
  • Exemption 6:  "The Court . . . concludes that the State Department appropriately invoked Exemption 6 to protect the third party's social security number from disclosure."  The court finds that "the Department acted well within its authority in redacting a third party’s social security number from the form at issue."
  • Exemption 7(C):  "The Court . . . holds that the redactions of the names ["of law enforcement officers, other government employees, and a confidential source"] and other identifying personal information was lawful."  Specifically, the court holds that "[o]n one side of the balance, government investigators and employees 'have a legitimate interest in preserving the secrecy of matters that conceivably could subject them to annoyance or harassment in either their official or private lives.'"  "And, on the other side of the balance, [plaintiff] has failed to identify any public interest in disclosure, and the Court is unaware of any way in which the redacted, personal information would further the statutory purpose of elucidating the workings of the government."
  • Exemption 7(D):  "[T]he Court cannot conclude, based on the current record, the Department of Defense properly invoked Exemption 7(D)[.]"  The court explains that "[defendant] merely asserts that '[t]he source provided the information' at issue 'with the understanding that . . . [defendant] would keep the information confidential and [would] not disclose [it] (except for law enforcement purposes).'"  "[Defendant] does not indicate whether that assertion is made based on personal knowledge, whether the assurance at issue was express or implied, or what, if any, evidence supports [its] conclusion."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 6
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(D)
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Updated November 19, 2021