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Judicial Watch, Inc. v. United States HUD

United States District Court, D. Columbia

February 28, 2014

JUDICIAL WATCH, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For JUDICIAL WATCH, INC., Plaintiff: David Francis Rothstein, Paul J. Orfanedes , JUDICIAL WATCH, INC., Washington, DC.

For UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, Defendant: Michael Charles Pollack, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch, Washington, DC.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

ELLEN SEGAL HUVELLE, United States District Judge.

Judicial Watch, Inc. brings this action against the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (" HUD" ), under the Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ), 5 U.S.C. § § 552, et seq. In response to a FOIA request made by plaintiff, defendant produced some documents in full, but withheld or redacted others pursuant to Exemptions 4, 5, and 6 to FOIA. Plaintiff now challenges the propriety of withholding and redacting these documents, as well as the adequacy of defendant's search. Presently before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. (Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., Nov. 11, 2013 [ECF No. 20-1] (" Def.'s Mot." ); Pltf.'s Cross-Mot. for Summ J., Dec. 18, 2013 [ECF No. 22] (" Pltf.'s Mot." ).) For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant defendant's motion for summary judgment and will deny plaintiff's motion.

BACKGROUND

On April 4, 2012, plaintiff submitted FOIA requests to HUD, the Department of Justice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Housing Agency seeking:

1. All communications with or about St. Paul, Minnesota, its residents, landlords, low-income properties or employees, specifically those exchanges:
a. relating to the city's recent petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, including the petition's withdrawal in February 2012;
b. regarding " disparate impact" theory or analysis in the housing, landlord-tenant, or mortgage arena;
c. involving any member of the U.S. Senate's Democratic Policy & Communications Committee, the House Democratic Caucus, or the White House, and their respective staffs, and;
d. involving third parties such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Thomas Goldstein, or Walter Mondale and their respective staffs;

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2. All invoices for travel, food, lodging, communications, or entertainment expenses incurred in connection with any " disparate impact" lawsuit.

(Def.'s Statement of Material Facts, Nov. 13, 2013 [ECF No. 20-2] (" SOF" ), at ΒΆ 1). When HUD did not produce any documents, plaintiff filed a complaint seeking to compel their production on November ...


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