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HATCHER v. U.S. DOJ OFFICE OF INFORMATION & PRIVAC

December 14, 1995

EVERETTE HATCHER JR., Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICE OF INFORMATION AND PRIVACY ACT, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

 The issue in this case is whether the defendant properly invoked the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. ยง 552, exemption (b) (7) (C) to justify withholding certain documents requested by plaintiff.

 Background

 Plaintiff, a pro se prisoner, made his original request on February 27, 1995 for records pertaining to him located in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Mississippi. After an initial denial of access and a successful administrative appeal, Plaintiff was provided with several pages of responsive material. In total, Defendant released 2 pages in full and 8 pages in part and referred 2 pages to the Postal Service, which subsequently released them to the Plaintiff. Defendant withheld 2 full pages claiming the exemption available under (b) (7) (C).

 Plaintiff filed a complaint under the in this Court on August 11, 1995 requesting that the Defendants turn over all the documents that it was withholding that are responsive to his request. On November 9, 1995 Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that there were no material facts in dispute and that as a matter of law it had properly withheld information under Privacy Act Exemption (j) (2) and exemption (b) (7) (C). In Plaintiff's opposition, he claims that the Privacy Act exemption (j) (2) and exemption (b) (7) (C) were not properly invoked. He seeks an in camera review of the documents in dispute. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the Court will grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

 Analysis

 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 (c), summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Mere allegations or denials of the moving party's pleadings are not enough to prevent issuance of summary judgment. The adverse party's response to the summary judgment motion must "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(e).

 The Supreme Court set forth the governing standards for issuance of summary judgment in Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986), in which the Supreme Court recognized the need for summary judgment to the fair and efficient functioning of the justice system:

 
Summary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed "to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 1. . . .
 
Rule 56 must be construed with due regard not only for the rights of persons asserting claims and defenses that are adequately based in fact to have those claims and defenses tried to a jury, but also for the rights of persons opposing such claims and defenses to demonstrate in the manner provided by the Rule, prior to trial, that the claims and defenses have no factual basis.

 Id. at 327. (citation omitted).

 The non-moving party, is "required to provide evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to find" in its favor. Laningham v. U.S. Navy, 259 U.S. App. D.C. 115, 813 F.2d 1236, 1242 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (citing Celotex, supra). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment where "the non-moving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of [its] case with respect to which [it] has the burden of proof." Celotex 477 U.S. at 323. Any factual assertions contained in affidavits and other evidence in support of the moving party's motion for summary judgment shall be accepted as true unless the facts are controverted by the non-moving party through affidavits or other documentary evidence. See Local Rule 108 (h).

 In resolving the summary judgment motion, all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505. The inferences, however, must be reasonable, and the non-moving party can only defeat a motion for summary judgment by responding with some factual ...


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