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GREENPEACE U.S.A., INC. v. EPA

April 30, 1990

GREENPEACE U.S.A., INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PENN

 JOHN GARRETT PENN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Plaintiff, a non-profit environmental advocacy group, filed this action under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552. Plaintiff seeks disclosure of records relating to the participation of J. Paul des Rosiers, an employee of the Environment Protection Agency ("E.P.A."), in a public meeting held in Haysville, Kansas by Vulcan Chemicals Company ("Vulcan Chemicals"). *fn1" Specifically, plaintiff requests production of any records which indicate whether Mr. des Rosiers' participation was approved by the E.P.A. and whether, and how much, he was reimbursed by Vulcan Chemicals for his appearance. Plaintiff also seeks production of documents reflecting whether Mr. des Rosiers' action is considered by the E.P.A. to be in violation of the agency's conflict of interest regulations.

 Defendant has refused to confirm or deny whether any responsive records exist. The defendant argues that to do so would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of Mr. des Rosiers' privacy. The defendant claims exemption from disclosure under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6) and (b)(7)(C). This matter is before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment. The Court heard oral argument on October 12, 1989.

 I.

 Defendant contends Mr. des Rosiers spoke at the March 3 meeting as an individual and not as a representative of E.P.A. Defendant's Statement Of Material Facts As To Which There Is No Genuine Issue ("Defendant's SOMF") par. 5. Plaintiff disputes defendant's contention that Mr. des Rosiers did not speak as a representative of E.P.A. Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's SOMF par. 2. Plaintiff notes that the agenda identifies Mr. des Rosiers as an official of the E.P.A. Id., Plaintiff's Exhibit I. Further, plaintiff states that Mr. des Rosiers was introduced by the Vulcan Chemicals representative as an official from E.P.A. Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's SOMF at 2., Plaintiff's Exhibit A par. 6.

 II.

 The FOIA disclosure requirements does not apply to:

 
personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6). Both parties acknowledge that the Supreme Court has rejected an interpretation of Exemption 6, that would apply only to information that is "highly personal or as intimate in nature." United States Department of State v. Washington Post Co., 456 U.S. 595, 102 S. Ct. 1957, 72 L. Ed. 2d 358 (1982). The Supreme Court stated that "the exemption was intended to cover detailed Government records on an individual which can be identified as applying to that individual." Id. at 602, 102 S. Ct. at 1961 (citation omitted).

 Defendant contends that the plaintiff's request seeks access to any records pertaining to a named federal employee's outside employment. Defendant's Memorandum In Support of Its Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and In Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Defendant's Memorandum") at 7. The defendant further states that "any responsive records, therefore, would necessarily consist of personal information identifiable as applying to that individual and concerning his private employment and activity outside the scope of his official duties." Id. However, the Court does not agree with defendant's description of the information sought.

 Although there is a dispute as to whether Mr. des Rosier spoke as an individual or on behalf of the E.P.A., it is clear that he was introduced at the March 3 meeting as an employee of the E.P.A. The Vulcan Public Meeting Agenda indicates that Mr. des Rosier is a "Research and Development Engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C. Incineration." Plaintiff's Exhibit I. The information sought does not go to personal information about Mr. des Rosier, but to whether his attendance at the March 3 meeting was in violation of the E.P.A. regulations. *fn2" Even in view of the broad ...


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