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Torres Consulting & Law Group v. Dep't of Energy, No. CV-13-00858-PHX-NVW, 2013 WL 6196291 (D. Ariz. Nov. 27, 2013) (Wake, J.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Re: Request for records concerning Department of Energy construction project Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment
  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  The court finds that "[b]ecause [plaintiff] did not challenge any redactions [defendant] made under Exemption 6 in its administrative appeal, it has not exhausted its administrative remedies for redactions made under Exemption 6."
  • Exemption 4:  The court finds that Exemption 4 was properly invoked in response to this request.  The court first notes that "[plaintiff] concedes that the first two criteria for [Exemption 4] are met, and the parties only dispute whether the information withheld under the FOIA was 'privileged or confidential.'"  The court finds that "the first prong [the impairment prong] is inapplicable because the subcontractors associated with this case are required to submit their payroll information, meaning the outcome of this case has no bearing on the government's ability obtain similar information in the future."  The court then finds that the second prong has been satisfied because "[defendant] has met its burden . . . by establishing that a likelihood of competitive harm is beyond dispute."  The court notes that defendant's "affidavits establish conclusively that competitive harm would result if its subcontractors' labor production rates were disclosed" and, "[w]hile the exact extent of that competitive harm is debatable, the precise amount need not be determined in this action."  The court finds that "[a]dditionally, disclosing the requested wage and hour information could hurt [defendant] by impacting the type and amount of bids received in the future and harm the contractors' employees by altering the wages offered on future contracts."
District Court
Exemption 4
Litigation Considerations
Updated August 6, 2014