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Peeler v. DEA, No. 11cv1261, 2013 WL 4441528 (D. Conn. Aug. 15, 2013) (Arterton, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning investigation of plaintiff Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment
  • Searching for Responsive Records:  The court holds that, "[b]ecause Defendant has satisfied its burden to show that a reasonable and adequate search was performed, and Plaintiff has failed to put forth any evidence that would rebut the good-faith presumption to which Defendant's affidavits are entitled, summary judgment will be granted as to the adequacy of the Government's search."  The court rejects plaintiff's arguments that defendant's search was incomplete because "[p]laintiff is in possession of some eighty-five pages of previously released phone records and one of the responsive pages was similar in format to those in Plaintiff's possession and . . . because [plaintiff] has the 'common sense' notion that more files should exist in a case that involved drug trafficking and murder."  The court finds that, "[b]ecause an agency search need not uncover every relevant document to be adequate under the FOIA, the fact that Plaintiff possessed additional responsive documents that were not disclosed is not sufficient to show that [defendant's] search was inadequate."  The court finds that, "[f]urthermore, Plaintiff must assert more than his good-faith belief or 'common sense' notion that more records exist in order to create a genuine factual dispute as to the adequacy of Defendant's search."
  • Exemption 7(C):  The court holds that, "Plaintiff's claimed interest in disclosure is not sufficient to overcome the privacy interest of [defendant] agents and third-parties named in the case files."  The court reasons that, "despite Plaintiff's attempts to categorize it as a public interest, the only interest he identifies is his personal interest in using the requested information to challenge his criminal conviction."  The court finds that, "'[t]his does not raise a FOIA-recognized interest that should be weighed against the subject's privacy interests.'"
  • Segregability:  The court reject's plaintiff's argument that, "that although withholding names may be reasonable segregation, the information in the columns for 'Phone,' 'Creation Date,' 'Name,' 'Name 2,' 'Address,' 'City,' and 'State' should not have been withheld."  The court notes that it, "cannot be certain at which level of specificity in the identifying information columns there would be sufficient information for Plaintiff to deduce an individual's identity from the relevant records."  Therefore, the court holds that, "because [defendant] is entitled to a presumption that it has complied with the obligation to disclose all reasonably segregable material, and the Vaughn index states with specificity the reasons that the information was withheld, [this information] was properly segregated."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(C)
Updated August 6, 2014