Sanchez-Alaniz v. BOP, No. 13-1812, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39790 (D.D.C. Mar. 25, 2016) (Sullivan, J.)
Re: Requests for records concerning plaintiff
Disposition: Granting defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment
- Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies: "[B]ecause plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies regarding [his request for records concerning an] Administrative Tort Claim . . ., the Court will grant defendant's motion for summary judgment on this claim." The court notes that plaintiff sent this request to the incorrect office location and "offers no support for his assertion that the [correct location] actually received this FOIA request." Additionally, "[b]ecause defendant demonstrates plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies through compliance with the agency's fee regulations, the Court will grant summary judgment for the BOP regarding [another] FOIA Request." However, in response to defendant's "argu[ment] that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies [on another request] by filing an administrative appeal," the court finds that "[e]xhaustion is not a jurisdictional requirement" and "[t]he record now before the Court includes a copy of the redacted records released to plaintiff by the BOP, declarations supporting the BOP's decisions to withhold information under Exemptions 7(C) and 7(F), and full briefing by the parties." "In these circumstances, the Court will resolve the matter on the merits and deny defendant's motion on this claim."
- Search: Regarding the handling of the one request which the Court decided to resolve on the merits, "the Court concludes that the agency conducted a reasonable search for records." The court finds that defendant searched both the paper and electronic files of "the unit which 'investigates inmates and staff misconduct within the institution, gathers intelligence on criminal activities, and investigates threats to the safety of inmates and staff.'"
- Exemption 7, Threshold: The court holds that "BOP . . . demonstrates that the relevant records were compiled for law enforcement purposes within the scope of Exemption 7." The court finds that defendant has "'establish[ed] a rational nexus between the investigation and one of the agency's law enforcement duties and a connection between an individual or incident and a possible security risk or violation of federal law.'" The court relates that "[t]he declarant explains that the records responsive to [the] [r]equest . . . were generated when '[p]laintiff requested that the BOP-SIS investigate whether his security needs could be met at USP Atwater.'" "And according to plaintiff, '[t]he report indicates separation factors and the degree of risk of physical injury or death [he faced] at Atwater USP.'"
- Exemption 7(C) & 7(F): "The Court concludes that the decision to redact the names of and identifying information about BOP employees and inmates under Exemptions 7(C) and 7(F) was appropriate." Regarding plaintiff's primary objection that defendant handled the redactions in two similar reports differently, the court finds that "[e]ven if there were a legal basis for plaintiff's arguments, it is apparent that these reports 'are not two identical reports from [SIS].'" The court explains that "'[t]he investigation type[s] for [the two requested investigations] are different," . . . and plaintiff's role in one investigation differs from his role in the other."
- Procedural Requirements, "Reasonably Segregable" Obligation: "Based on the declaration and a copy of the redacted SIS report itself, the Court concludes that the BOP has released all reasonably segregable information."