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Perioperative Servs. & Logistics, LLC v. VA, No. 20-0095, 2021 WL 4476769 (D.D.C. Sept. 30, 2021) (Berman Jackson, J.)


Perioperative Servs. & Logistics, LLC v. VA, No. 20-0095, 2021 WL 4476769 (D.D.C. Sept. 30, 2021) (Berman Jackson, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning third party complaint submitted to defendant regarding plaintiff's business practices

Disposition:  Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for reconsideration

  • Exemption 6:  "The Court finds that the privacy interest is significant, the risk of harassment is real, particularly in light of plaintiff's obvious indignation, and the asserted public interest is too speculative to overcome the privacy interest."  The court finds that "[t]he privacy interest here is clear; plaintiff specifically asked to be informed of the identity of the third party that filed a complaint with a federal agency."  "The materials on the record establish that the risk of harassment is present in this case."  "The focus of the FOIA request, the lawsuit, and the opposition to the motion is learning the complainant's identity; plaintiff apparently wishes to expose the complainant because it believes it has been wronged by that party."  "But advancing a personal vendetta is not a purpose FOIA was designed to serve."  Regarding the public interest, the court finds that "while plaintiff may be sincere in its assertions that it has been irreparably harmed . . . its complaints about the economic impact of the investigation on it . . . do not factor into the balancing."  Additionally, "[e]ven if the Court accepts plaintiff's accusations about the veracity of the third party complaint, the release of the complainant’s identity would not lead to a greater public understanding of the agency's decision-making processes."
  • Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection:  The court holds that "[t]his is one of the rare cases where the ex parte submission, with its detailed description of the nature of the withheld document and the reasons underlying the exemption, was necessary to preserve the privacy of the third party involved."  "Therefore, the Court concludes in its discretion that, while ex parte submissions are generally disfavored, it is justified by the privacy interests implicated by this case."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 6
Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection
Updated October 28, 2021