United States District Court, District of Columbia
DAVID S. BRAUN, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE and OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET, Defendants.
G. SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
David Steven Braun requested information from the United
States Postal Service (“USPS”) under the Freedom
of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (“FOIA”),
and Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a. USPS conducted what it
considers to be a reasonable search in response to those
requests and released the records that were not otherwise
exempt from disclosure. USPS now moves for summary judgment,
arguing that it has discharged its FOIA responsibilities. Mr.
Braun also moves for summary judgment, requesting that the
Court award him damages in the amount of $3 million dollars a
year for the remainder of his life.
consideration of the parties' cross motions, the
oppositions and replies thereto, the applicable law, and the
entire record, the Court GRANTS USPS's
motion for summary judgement and DENIES Mr.
Braun's motion for summary judgment.
Braun, appearing pro se, filed his complaint against
USPS and the Office of Management and Budget
(“OMB”) on October 17, 2016. See
Compl., ECF No. 1 at 1. Mr. Braun alleges that he
made at least three requests for records under the Privacy
Act or FOIA to two different components of USPS: the USPS
Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) and the
United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”)
. See Id. at 13-58. The relief sought by Mr. Braun is
not wholly clear. Under a section titled “Requested
Goal off this suite, ” Mr. Braun requests “that
all records denied in this and previous request's be
reviewed and processed for criminal/negligent
behavior.” See Id. at 12. He further states
that “[t]heir seams to be this database, record issues,
that might also need a court order from a Federal
Judge.” Id. Finally, he requests monetary
damages “to compensate [him] for the negligence and
malicious behavior and damaged caused buy the issues brought
to light in this suite.” Id.
January 30, 2017, OMB moved to dismiss all of Mr. Braun's
claims, and USPS moved to dismiss everything except Mr.
Braun's Privacy Act claims. See OMB Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 22; USPS Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 23. The
Court granted both defendants' motions, finding that Mr.
Braun had failed to plausibly state a claim that entitled him
to relief. See Braun v. United States Postal
Service, 2017 WL 4325645 (D.D.C. Sept. 27, 2017).
Accordingly, the only claims remaining are Mr. Braun's
claims under the Privacy Act against USPS.
December 8, 2017, USPS filed its motion for summary judgment
as to these remaining claims. See USPS Summ. J.
Mot., ECF No. 52. USPS also submitted a statement of facts
(“SMF”) in support of that motion. See
id., ECF No. 52 at 5-15. On January 15, 2018, Mr. Braun
filed his opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment.
See Braun Opp. to Mot. (“Braun Opp.”),
ECF No. 53. Mr. Braun did not provide a response to
USPS's statement of material facts. The parties completed
briefing their motions on February 9, 2018, and the motions
are ripe for resolution.
judgment is granted when there is no genuine issue of
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Likewise, in ruling
on cross-motions for summary judgment, the court shall grant
summary judgment only if one of the moving parties is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law upon material facts
that are not genuinely disputed. See Citizens for
Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 658 F.Supp.2d 217, 224 (D.D.C. 2009) (citation
omitted). In determining whether a genuine issue of fact
exists, the court must view all facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must
conduct a de novo review of the record. See 5 U.S.C.
§ 552(a)(4)(B). In a suit seeking agency documents -
whether under the Privacy Act or FOIA - “the court may
rely on a reasonably detailed affidavit, setting forth the
search terms and the type of search performed, and averring
that all files likely to contain responsive materials (if
such records exist) were searched” in granting summary
judgment. Chambers v. U.S. Dep't. of Interior,
568 F.3d 998, 1003 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation
marks omitted). Such affidavits or declarations are
“accorded a presumption of good faith, which cannot be
rebutted by ‘purely speculative claims about the
existence and discoverability of other documents.'”
SafeCard Servs., Inc. v. SEC, 926 F.2d 1197, 1200
(D.C. Cir. 1991) (citation omitted). Moreover, “[i]n
determining a motion for summary judgment, the Court may
assume the facts identified by the moving party in its
statement of material facts are admitted, unless such a fact
is controverted in the statement of genuine issues filed in
opposition to the motion.” Local Civil Rule 7(h)(1).
preliminary matter, although Mr. Braun made requests pursuant
to the Privacy Act for certain records, the record systems
holding those records are exempt from the requirements of the
Privacy Act. See SMF ¶¶ 9-13, 36-38, ECF
No. 52 at 6-7, 11-12. Because USPS proceeded to examine any
responsive records for release pursuant to FOIA, the Court
shall analyze the propriety of USPS's response under
Adequacy of Searches
agency fulfills its obligations under FOIA if it can
demonstrate beyond material doubt that its search was
‘reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant
documents.'” Valencia-Lucena v. U.S. Coast
Guard, 180 F.3d 321, 325 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (quoting
Truitt v. Dep't of State, 897 F.2d 540, 542
(D.C. Cir. 1990)). “‘[T]he issue is
not whether any further documents
might conceivably exist but rather whether the
government's search for responsive documents was
adequate.'” Weisberg v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 705 F.2d 1344, 1351 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (quoting
Perry v. Block, 684 F.2d 121, 128 (D.C. Cir. 1982)).
The standard is one of “reasonableness” and is
“dependent upon the circumstances of the case.”
Id. (citations and internal quotation marks
omitted). To establish the adequacy of its search, an agency
“may rely upon affidavits to show it has conducted a
reasonable search, as long as they are ‘relatively
detailed' and nonconclusory and . . . submitted in good
faith.” Id. (citations and internal quotation
marks omitted). If the requestor is able to produce