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Wadelton v. Department of State

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 25, 2013

JOAN WADELTON et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Defendant

For JOAN WADELTON, TRUTHOUT, Plaintiffs: Kelly Brian McClanahan, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNSELORS, Arlington, VA.

For DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Defendant: Fred Elmore Haynes, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

OPINION

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ELLEN SEGAL HUVELLE, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs Joan Wadelton and Truthout have filed suit pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ), 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq., the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a et seq., the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, and the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, seeking to compel the United States Department of State to produce certain documents pertaining to Wadelton on an expedited basis. ( See Complaint (" Compl." ) [ECF No. 1] at 1, 12.) Plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction simultaneously with their filing of the complaint. For the reasons

Page 121

stated below, the Court will deny plaintiffs' motion.

BACKGROUND

Wadelton joined the Foreign Service in 1980 and worked her way up to the highest rank short of the Senior Foreign Service. ( See Compl. ¶ 7.) She has served in Iraq, among other places, and has been assigned to several prestigious posts. ( See Compl. ¶ ¶ 9-13.) Wadelton alleges that she has been treated unfairly by the State Department's Bureau of Human Resources (" BHR" ) since 2000, culminating in her termination in 2011 in retaliation for her whistleblowing activities regarding problems in the Foreign Service promotion process. ( See Compl. ¶ ¶ 14-40; Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction (" Pl. Mot." ) [ECF No. 3] at 1.) Truthout is a news media organization that intends to publish a story about Wadelton's case. ( See Pl. Mot. at 4). The State Department has recognized Truthout as co-requester on each of Wadelton's FOIA requests. ( See Compl. ¶ ¶ 50, 57, 66, 74.)

Wadelton and Truthout have made three FOIA requests pertaining to Wadelton's employment as a Foreign Service officer:

(1) July 17, 2012 request for all Office of the Legal Advisor records created about Wadelton since 2002;
(2) October 1, 2012 request for all emails and other documents pertaining to Wadelton from 2000-present maintained or created by BHR or in which a BHR employee or contractor was a sender or recipient; and
(3) October 1, 2012 request for all emails or other documents pertaining to Wadelton from 2004-present maintained or created by the Under Secretary of Management (" USM" ) or in which a USM employee or contractor was a sender or recipient.

(See id. ¶ ¶ 47, 54, 61.) In response to this third request, the State Department informed plaintiffs that it has identified eighteen responsive records and will release eight in full, withhold six in full, and coordinate with other offices regarding the remaining four records. ( See id. ¶ 63.) On February 4, 2013, plaintiffs requested expedited processing of all three requests. ( See id. ¶ 64.) On February 14, 2013, plaintiffs appealed the State Department's withholdings and requested expedited processing of the appeal. ( See id. ¶ 65.) On March 22, 2013, the State Department denied the request for expedited processing. ( See id. ΒΆ ...


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