Stevens v. U.S. Dep't of State, No. 13-5152, 2015 WL 1744131 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 14, 2015) (Marovich, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning third party
Disposition: Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment; granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's motion for summary judgment
- Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records: The court holds that "the State Department's search was adequate and reasonable in most respects." "The Court agrees that the search terms used by the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras were not reasonably calculated to uncover all responsive documents." The court explains that defendant "failed to search for what the Court considers to be the most obvious search term, . . . the third party's surname." However, in response to plaintiffs argument that "defendant searched the records of too few employees," the court finds that "the searches the State Department actually performed in Honduras would have found the documents [two former employees] left behind" and, "[w]ithout any reason to believe the same employees worked on both cases, the Court cannot conclude that it was unreasonable not to search the records of employees who worked on [a possible related] case."
- Attorney Fees: The court holds that "[p]laintiff has prevailed, in part, in this suit, but the Court cannot say that she has prevailed 'substantially.'" "That is because: (a) plaintiff supplied defendant the signed authorization from [the third party] after she filed suit; and (b) the Court has concluded that only a small portion of defendant's search was inadequate." "For these reasons, each party will bear her or its own fees and costs of this suit."