Lewis v. FAA, No. 3:11-CV-1458-AC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2512 (D. Or. Jan. 7, 2013) (Acosta, Mag. J.)

Monday, January 7, 2013
Re: Requests for records pertaining to plaintiff's discharge from his position as an air traffic controller employed by FAA Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment
  • Exhaustion: "The court finds that [plaintiff] failed to exhaust his administrative remedies" for certain requests when his supplemental documents "do not evidence an appeal of the assessed charges." Plaintiff "does not dispute receiving these letters or that he did not respond to, or complain about, the assessed charges." The supplemental documents only establish "a conversation about the underlying request…not a clear complaint about the amount assessed, a request for a fee waiver of the amount assessed, or an agreement by [plaintiff] to pay the amounts assessed."
  • Exemption 5/Deliberative Process Privilege: The court determines that the FAA properly redacted information from e-mails. The Vaughn Index "provided by the [FAA] explains that the redacted materials precede the decision on what disciplinary action should be taken against [plaintiff] and contain recommendations…with regard to the appropriate disciplinary action." The court concludes that the "redaction of this information is consistent with the three essential policy reasons for the deliberate process privilege in that it improves the decision-making process by protecting creative debate and candid consideration of alternatives within the agency."
  • Exemption 5/Attorney-Client Privilege: The court affirms FAA's redaction of e-mails in which "an attorney for the [FAA] provided advice in response to a request from [an FAA employee] on the proper handling of [plaintiff]'s discipline."
  • Allegations of Bad Faith: The court notes that plaintiff's allegations "may establish a contentious relationship between [plaintiff] and the [FAA], they do not impugn the affidavits offered by the [FAA] or provide tangible evidence that the [FAA] acted improperly in redacting information under Exemption 5."
Allegations of Bad Faith
District Court
Exemption 5
Updated August 6, 2014