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Menasha Corp. v. DOJ, No. 12-1720, 2013 WL 615326 (7th Cir. Feb. 20, 2013) (Posner, Cir. J.)

Re: Request for records exchanged between Environmental Enforcement Section and Environmental Defense Section of DOJ, concerning a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act suit and proposed consent decree Disposition: Reversing district court's denial of defendant's motion for summary judgment
  • Exemption 5/"Inter-Agency or Intra-Agency" Threshold Requirement: The Court finds unpersuasive plaintiff's characterization of the two Sections as adversaries. The Seventh Circuit explains that "[t]he two sections have no autonomy." "The United States, represented by the Department of Justice, is the only federal party and the lawyers in the enforcement and defense sections have no authority to determine its negotiating aim and strategy." "The only federal party was the United States, a single party represented by a single legal representative, the Justice Department." Therefore, while "[t]he government has conflicting interests; its resolution of them is the face it presents to the adversary." The Seventh Circuit finds that "information in the nature of attorney work product exchanged among the Department's lawyers is not information exchanged among adverse parties and is therefore privileged."
Court Decision Topic(s)
Court of Appeals opinions
Exemption 5
Updated August 6, 2014