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Pebble Ltd. P'ship v. EPA, No. 14-0199, 2016 WL 128088 (D. Ala. Jan. 12, 2016) (Holland, J.)


Pebble Ltd. P'ship v. EPA, No. 14-0199, 2016 WL 128088 (D. Ala. Jan. 12, 2016) (Holland, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff's plans to develop mine deposit

Disposition: Denying defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege:  "Based on its in camera review of the FOIA documents, the court concludes that defendant has properly asserted the deliberative process exemption as to the redacted portions of the FOIA documents that it is claiming are exempt as well as to those few FOIA documents for which defendant has asserted the privilege as to the entire document."  "The FOIA documents are primarily drafts of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment or portions of the Assessment and internal emails and attachments."  "'Draft documents subject to revision or containing proposed changes fall well within the deliberative process privilege.'"
  • Procedural Requirements, "Reasonably Segregable" Obligation:  The court holds that "[t]he problem is that defendant withheld documents in full that it should have released in redacted form."  The court explains that "defendant has not asserted the privilege as to the entire document, which means that defendant could have released redacted forms of [this] document[] in response to plaintiff's . . . request."  Therefore, the court finds that "[i]t is thus reasonable for the court to assume that defendant has improperly withheld other non-sample documents in full."  The court finds that "defendant must reevaluate the non-sample documents it withheld in full pursuant to FOIA Exemption 5 and release those documents that are not deliberative or those that can be released in redacted form."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 5
Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege
Procedural Requirements, “Reasonably Segregable” Obligation
Updated January 13, 2022