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Lazaridis v. United States Dep't of State

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 27, 2013

EMMANUEL N. LAZARIDIS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Defendant

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EMMANUEL N. LAZARIDIS, individually, and on behalf of V.L., a minor, in his capacity as her legal custodian, Plaintiff, Pro se, GREECE.

For UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE, by and through Hillary R. Clinton, Secretary of State, Defendant: Benton Gregory Peterson, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

OPINION

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ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In this action brought pro se under the Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ), 5 U.S.C. § 552, plaintiff Emmanuel N. Lazaridis seeks records maintained by the Department of State (" DOS" ) " concerning the plaintiffs personally." [1] Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 1. Specifically, Mr. Lazaridis is challenging DOS's responses to his FOIA requests allegedly submitted in April 2006, November 2007, and March 2008.[2] See Compl. ¶ ¶ 7-32. DOS has moved for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. See Def.'s Renewed Mot. for Summ. J. [Dkt. 25]. Mr. Lazaridis has opposed the motion and has cross moved for summary judgment. See Resp. in Opp'n to Def. U.S. Dep't of State's Mot. for Summ. J. and Renewed Cross-Mot. for Summ. J. [Dkt. 30]. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions and the relevant parts of the record, the Court will grant in part and deny in part DOS's motion for summary judgment and will deny Mr. Lazaridis's cross-motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

1. The 2006 Request

By letter of April 4, 2006, Mr. Lazaridis requested from the State Department " written, audio, video or electronic records" pertaining to him and his minor child, V.L. 2nd Decl. of Margaret P. Grafeld (" Grafeld Decl." ) [Dkt. 25-1], Ex. 1. In addition to DOS's " central location," plaintiff identified DOS's Office of Children's Issues, DOS's Passport Services Office of Research and Liaison, the United States Consulate in Lyon, France, and the United States Embassies in Paris, France, and Athens, Greece, as locations that may have responsive records. Id. By letter of July 19, 2006, the Office of Passport Services (" OPS" ) released to Mr. Lazaridis in their entirety three documents concerning V.L. Id., Ex. 6.

In addition to OPS files, DOS searched the files of the Central Foreign Policy Records (" CFPR" ), the Office of the Legal Adviser (" OLA" ), the Office of Overseas Citizens Services (" OCS" ), the American Embassies in Athens and Paris, the American

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Consulate General in Marseille, and the American Consulate in Lyon. Id. ¶ 13 & Ex. 7. By letter of August 10, 2006, DOS released four documents located in the CFPR, two containing redactions. DOS withheld information " about another person" under FOIA exemption 6. Id., Ex. 7 .

By letter of December 14, 2006, DOS informed Mr. Lazaridis that it had located at OPS 11 documents in his name. It released one document in its entirety and two documents with redactions. DOS withheld seven documents, and referred one document to the office from which it originated for review. It withheld information under FOIA exemptions 2, 5, and 6. Id., Ex. 8. By letter of February 8, 2007, DOS released a document in full that OPS had referred to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Id., Ex. 10.

By letter of January 12, 2007, DOS released 10 of 12 documents located at the American Embassy in Athens, nine of which contained redactions. DOS withheld two documents in full. DOS withheld information under FOIA exemptions 6 and 7(A). Id., Ex. 9.

By letter of March 9, 2007, DOS released all 34 documents located at the American Embassy in Paris and the American Consulate in Lyon, nine with redactions. Id., Ex. 13. By letter of October 16, 2007, DOS informed Mr. Lazaridis that an additional search of the embassies in Athens and Paris located 25 more documents. It released one document in full and six documents with redactions. DOS referred one document to another agency and held 17 for " intra-agency coordination." Id., Ex. 16. DOS withheld information from both releases under FOIA exemption 6 as pertaining to " other persons."

Mr. Lazaridis lodged separate appeals of the foregoing determinations with the Appeals Review Panel. See id., Ex. 11 (referencing Dec. 14, 2006, and Jan. 12, 2007 decisions); Ex. 14 (referencing Mar. 9, 2007, decision); Ex. 17 (referencing Oct. 16, 2007, decision). As a result of Mr. Lazaridis's first appeal " for the release of two documents withheld in full and nine documents withheld in part," the Appeals Panel released " additional portions of three documents previously withheld in part," and upheld the redaction of information from six documents and the withholding of two documents. Id., Ex. 19. As a result of Mr. Lazaridis's second appeal, challenging the release of nine redacted documents, the Appeals Panel released " the previously withheld portions of one document," and upheld the withholding of third-party information from " the other eight documents." Id., Ex. 20.

2. The 2007 Request

By letter of November 30, 2007, Mr. Lazaridis requested the same records from DOS that he had requested on April 4, 2006. 2d Grafeld Decl. ¶ 24. Following searches of the same filing systems, DOS made the following releases.

By letter of April 25, 2008, DOS released two passport records " in the name of your daughter VL" with redactions made pursuant to FOIA exemption 6. Id., Ex. 26.

By letter of May 30, 2008, DOS released all four documents pertaining to Mr. Lazaridis located in the CFPR. Id., Ex. 31.

By letter of June 3, 2008, DOS released three CFPR documents pertaining to V.L., two with redactions pursuant to exemption 6. Id., Ex. 27.

By letter of June 17, 2008, DOS released six passport documents pertaining to Mr. Lazaridis, five with ...


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