Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP ex rel. Am. Mgmt. Servs. v. Dep't of the Army, No. 13-06890, 2014 WL 5781394 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 6, 2014) (Pregerson, J.)
Re: Request for proposals to modify and expand scope of development and management of certain family housing complexes for Army
Disposition: Granting in part and denying in part defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment; granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment
- Procedural Requirements, Time Limits: "The Court finds that the Army's unreasonable delay violated FOIA's timeliness requirements." The court finds that "[p]laintiff has not alleged facts showing that the Army engages in a pattern or practice of delay." "Nor was the Army egregiously deficient in responding to initial request for records." However, the court also finds "[t]hat the delay of Plaintiff's appeal appears to have been the result of bureaucratic mishandling rather than intentional obfuscation . . . but [that is] not enough to make the delay reasonable." Additionally, "[t]his Court will not excuse the Army's excessive delay simply because it has not created efficient mechanisms for referring FOIA requests to the appropriate entity-especially when it has affirmatively misinformed Plaintiff as to where the request should be directed."
- Exemption 4: The court holds that "for the most part, the Army's redactions are reasonably targeted to protect [the contractor at issue's] internal processes while still providing a great deal of general information." The court relates that "[t]he redacted information mostly consists of information showing how [the contractor] organizes and phases the construction of new housing, how it reacts to unanticipated market conditions, how it approaches financing, and how it breaks down costs and spending to get the job done." The court first finds that the contractor "bids or plans to bid for jobs, or competes for tenants, and other companies or entities do likewise." "[I]nformation about [the contractor's] business model in housing construction and management is relevant" and, "therefore [the court] finds that [the contractor] now faces or will face actual competition in a relevant market." Additionally, the court finds that "the information now in suit reveals the internal workings of the contractor, not those of the Government, and would seem to shed little if any light upon the agency's performance of its statutory duties." However, "[t]he Court does not agree with all of Defendant's redactions and will issue a separate order requiring the release of some small amounts of additional information that do not seem to fall under the exemption for confidential commercial information."