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American Chemistry Council, Inc. v. United States Department of Health & Human Services

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 12, 2013

AMERICAN CHEMISTRY COUNCIL, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al., Defendants

For AMERICAN CHEMISTRY COUNCIL, INC., Plaintiff: Kent A. Yalowitz, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, ARNOLD & PORTER LLP, New York, NY; Blake A. Biles, ARNOLD & PORTER LLP, Washington, DC.

For UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES, Defendants: Peter Bryce, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, CIVIL DIVISION, FEDERAL PROGRAMS BRANCH, Washington, DC.

For NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE, Defendant: Peter Bryce, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, CIVIL DIVISION, FEDERAL PROGRAMS BRANCH, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 121

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES E. BOASBERG, United States District Judge.

In November 2011, Plaintiff American Chemistry Council submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, seeking records pertaining to a federally funded study about the potential health effects of exposure to formaldehyde. Dissatisfied with HHS's response to its request, Plaintiff then brought this suit, which Defendants -- HHS and three of its component agencies -- subsequently moved to dismiss. In February 2013, the Court granted that motion in part, but held that it was premature to rule on the adequacy of Defendants' search before they had submitted supporting declarations detailing their efforts. Having now done so, Defendants move for summary judgment on this issue. Because the Court finds Defendants' efforts adequate, it will grant the Motion and enter judgment in their favor.

I. Background

As the Court has previously set forth the facts of the underlying FOIA dispute in a prior decision, Am. Chemistry Council, Inc. v. United States Dep't of Health and Human Serv., No. 12-1156, 922 F.Supp.2d 56, 2013 WL 524447 (D.D.C. Feb. 13, 2013), it will limit its discussion of the facts here to those that directly relate to this Motion.

Page 122

A. ACC's FOIA Request

In its November 7, 2011, request, ACC sought the following documents related to a 2010 research paper in the Journal of Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, primarily authored bye Luopoing Zhang:

1. All Records related to the protocol and methodology for conducting the Study. These ...


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