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GULA v. MEESE

November 30, 1988

JOHN STEPHEN GULA, Plaintiff,
v.
HONORABLE EDWIN MEESE III, Defendant


Stanley Sporkin, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

STANLEY SPORKIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

 Plaintiff John Stephen Gula filed this action under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq., and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a et seq., seeking the release of information regarding his daughter Kelly Elizabeth Gula from Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") investigative files and requesting damages in the amount of $ 54,020,000.00 for the FBI's failure to disclose the information.

 The FBI has turned over to the plaintiff a number of documents from its files, but it has withheld certain documents concerning the identity of FBI agents, FBI employees, and a non-FBI federal government employee, as well as information regarding the plaintiff's daughter Kelly. The FBI claims that the information, compiled for law enforcement purposes, is exempt from disclosure under Exemptions 7(C) and 7(D) of the FOIA. 5 U.S.C. § 552 (b)(7)(C) & (D).

 The plaintiff does not challenge the withholding by the FBI of information concerning the identity of certain FBI agents and the non-FBI federal government employee. However, plaintiff contends that the FBI must turn over the information concerning his daughter, which includes a number of letters written by the plaintiff.

 For the reasons stated below, this court finds that the information sought by the plaintiff is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. Further this court finds that the defendant FBI has not violated the Privacy Act and as a result the plaintiff is not entitled to damages under 5 U.S.C. § 552a et seq.

 Background

 In a letter to the FBI Washington, D.C. field office, dated March 14, 1985, the plaintiff requested information "in regard to myself, John Stephen Gula, and my daughter, Kelly Elizabeth Gula, on a complaint originating from your Albany, New York field office, handled in Washington, D.C. by your Special Agent Robert J Wick, Jr. and during the period November 1984 to February 1985 (sic)." Plaintiff's letter to FBI, March 14, 1985.

 It is undisputed that the FBI records sought by the plaintiff were "compiled for law enforcement purposes." 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7). They were collected during the course of the investigation of the plaintiff. The investigation was undertaken to determine whether the plaintiff's activities violated 18 U.S.C. § 873 (Blackmail) and §§ 875-877 (Extortion). Declaration of John F. Mencer, filed July 27, 1987, Pg. 4.

 The defendant FBI treated the plaintiff's request as having been made under the FOIA and the Privacy Act. It released only one page of the 18 page file kept at the Washington field office. The remaining pages of the file were withheld under Exemption 7(A) and 7(D) of the FOIA. The released page is a report of an interview of the plaintiff by FBI Special Agent Wick in January, 1985. According to the report, the plaintiff was advised of the investigation and allowed to view copies of the letters he had sent to a family in Vermont. The letters inquired as to the whereabouts and well-being of his daughter Kelly.

 Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal, seeking the release of the remainder of the Washington, D.C. file. This administrative appeal was denied on July 9, 1985. Plaintiff has exhausted his administrative remedies.

 Prior to the filing of this action, the FBI had concluded their investigation of the plaintiff. *fn1" Consequently, much of the information withheld under Exemption 7(A), which exempts from disclosure law enforcement records and information of an ongoing investigation, could be made available to the plaintiff. Thus the FBI reprocessed the plaintiffs original request. It reexamined its investigative files at field offices in Albany, New York and Washington, D.C. and at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. After this examination the Bureau released 71 of the 167 pages that comprised these files. A number of the documents released contained excisions.

 The information presently withheld falls into two categories. The first category contains information identifying particular FBI Special Agents, FBI employees, and non-FBI federal government employees. The Second category contains information regarding the plaintiff and his daughter. The plaintiff has stated in his pleadings that he neither seeks nor has ever sought any of the information in the first category and does not challenge the withholding of this information by the FBI. Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgement, filed February 3, 1988, Pg. 1.

 At issue is the second category, information regarding the plaintiff and his daughter, withheld by the FBI pursuant to ...


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