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Stroud v. BOP, No. 22-00799, 2023 WL 4405657 (D. Conn. July 7, 2023) (Dooley, J.)


Stroud v. BOP, No. 22-00799, 2023 WL 4405657 (D. Conn. July 7, 2023) (Dooley, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning certain administrative remedy policies and records

Disposition:  Granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  The court holds that “Plaintiff’s original FOIA claim challenging BOP’s failure to produce responsive documents to Request 1 was constructively exhausted at the time he filed this action.”  “This claim, however, is now moot because BOP conducted a first-level review, produced records, and thereafter corrected many redactions to the production for Request 1.”  “Plaintiff now challenges the BOP record production on the basis of the BOP’s allegedly intentional omission of records from that production and improper redaction.”  “FOIA does not address whether a plaintiff must exhaust a challenge to an agency’s production where the production was provided to the plaintiff after the lawsuit was filed for an already exhausted FOIA claim.”  “[T]he Court may retain jurisdiction where a defendant agency discloses records with redactions or withholdings.”  “Accordingly, the Court will conduct an in camera review of the sealed, unredacted copy of the production for Request 1 to determine whether the BOP’s redactions under the section 552(b) exemptions are substantiated.”
  • Exemption 6 & 7(C):  “[T]he Court concludes that the redactions under sections 552(b)(6) and (7)(C) are appropriate.”  The court relates that BOP withheld “identifying information about other inmates and administrative remedy response narratives that reveal private information about other inmates’ medical conditions, disciplinary issues, harassment complaints, and release dates,” as well as “identifying information of individuals in connection with complaints about staff misconduct.”  “The Court can discern no public interest that can be served by disclosing this highly personal information about individual inmates.”  “Defendant BOP has provided sufficient information for the Court to confirm on in camera review that disclosure of the redacted, highly private information about other inmates would do little to advance FOIA’s purpose to inform citizens about government action.”
  • Exemption 7(E) & Exemption 7(F):  The court holds that “BOP is considered a law enforcement agency charged with law enforcement purpose of protecting inmates, staff, and the community.”  The court relates that BOP withheld “information about inmate safety requests made through the BOP’s administrative remedy program and would thereby expose the inmate to foreseeable danger and disclose BOP law enforcement techniques.”  “After in camera review of the unredacted material and consideration of the [government’s] declarations . . . , the Court concludes that the BOP has sustained its burden of demonstrating that the 552(b)(7)(E)–(F) exemptions justify the redactions . . . .”
  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court relates that “[i]n response to Plaintiff’s claim that the BOP omitted two documents that he had requested, . . . Defendant submitted specific evidence to explain why there were no responses to provide for Administrative Remedies Numbers 1114758 and 1114693.”  “BOP’s Government Information Specialist . . . avers that no response was provided for Number 1114578 because it was rejected, and no response was provided to Number 1114693 because the BOP only forwarded a copy of the filing that the nonparty inmate had submitted.”  “The BOP cannot provide an Administrative Response that does not exist.”
  • Litigation Considerations, Pattern-or-Practice Claims:  The court first holds that “[e]ven in the absence of Second Circuit guidance, district courts in this Circuit have entertained FOIA policy and practice claims, although none appear to have granted any relief on such claims.”  “Following this precedent, the Court assumes that a FOIA policy or practice claim is cognizable.”  “In the absence of controlling Second Circuit law, the Court applies the standards articulated by the D.C. Circuit.”  Then, the court finds that “Plaintiff’s claim based on his [two requests] and a third request by another nonparty inmate do not substantiate ‘an extraordinary circumstance’ of unreasonable or wholly unjustified delays for FOIA requests as required for his policy or practice FOIA claim.”  “Plaintiff’s allegations about the three FOIA requests do not suggest that they were ignored or subjected to a prolonged period of unjustified agency non-responsiveness.”  “Plaintiff complains about an isolated period of delay in processing FOIA requests caused by inadequate staffing that is now being rectified.”  “Accordingly, there is no inference that BOP has a systemic policy or practice to withhold records or delay release of information requested under FOIA, and the motion for summary judgment is granted in Defendant’s favor as to this claim.”
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 6
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(E)
Exemption 7(F)
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Litigation Considerations, Pattern-or-Practice Claims
Updated August 8, 2023