United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY J. KELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dmitry Pronin, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed
this suit against Defendant Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP),
alleging violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),
5 U.S.C. § 552. See ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”).
Specifically, Plaintiff challenges Defendant's decision
to withhold as exempt lists of the names of staff members who
work at three BOP facilities where Plaintiff has been
incarcerated. See Id. at 5-6; ECF No. 1-1 at 5-6;
ECF No. 26 (“Pl.'s Opp.”) at 2.
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or for
Summary Judgment. ECF No. 24 (“MSJ”). In
Plaintiff's complaint, he does not clarify which of the
several FOIA requests he has made over the past several
years-and which portions of those requests- are the subject
of this action. Accordingly, in its motion, Defendant
attempts to address all six of Plaintiff's prior FOIA
requests by making broad, wholesale arguments as to each that
it conducted adequate searches, properly withheld or redacted
responsive information under the applicable exemptions, and
otherwise released any segregable information. Id.
In his response, however, Plaintiff explains that he solely
challenges Defendant's refusal to disclose staff lists
for three BOP facilities. See Pl.'s Opp. at 2.
apparently content to rest on its initial filing, never filed
a reply. But its motion falls well short of justifying
summary judgment as to the three staff lists Plaintiff has
identified. Accordingly, and for the reasons explained below,
Defendant's motion will be denied.
Factual and Procedural Background
a prisoner currently in BOP custody, submitted six FOIA
requests to Defendant between February 2016 through October
2017. See ECF No. 24-2 (“Rodgers Decl.”)
at 2-8. On September 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint
seeking the release of documents withheld by Defendant in
responding to those requests. See Compl. Though
Plaintiff did not specify in his complaint the particular
request or requests at issue, he clarified in his responses
to Defendant's motion that he is only challenging
Defendant's decision to withhold the names and positions
of employees at three BOP facilities: the Federal
Correctional Complex (FCC) located in Florence, Colorado; the
United States Penitentiary (USP) and FCC located in Terre
Haute, Indiana; and the FCC located in Beaumont, South
Carolina. See Pl.'s Opp. at 1-2, 6, 8; ECF No.
29 (“Pl.'s Supp. Opp.”) at 3, 5. Accordingly,
only two of Plaintiff s FOIA requests-Request No. 2016-02619
and Request No. 2017-05599-are at issue here. See ECF
No. 24-1 (“Def.'s Stmt. Facts”) at 1-6;
Rodgers Decl. at 2-8.
Plaintiff's FOIA Request No. 2016-02619
received Request No. 2016-02619 on February 19, 2016. Rodgers
Decl. ¶ 4. The request sought, among other records, (1)
“[t]he complete list of employees of FCC
‘Florence, '” (2) the “[f]ull name of
Physician Assistant Justillano, who was, until 2014, employed
by [BOP] at USP ‘Terre Haute, '” and (3)
“[t]he complete list of employees of USP/FCC
‘Terre Haute.'” ECF No. 24-3, Att. 1. On July
22, 2016, Defendant responded by informing Plaintiff that, in
response to the entirety of his request, it had identified
149 pages of responsive records and was releasing 93 pages in
full and 7 partial pages but withholding 49 pages in full.
Rodgers Decl. ¶ 4; ECF No. 24-3, Att. 2. According to
BOP, “[m]ost of the pages withheld in full were lists
of the names of BOP staff members.” Rodgers Decl.
¶ 4. In the letter, Defendant generally cited FOIA
Exemptions 2, 6, 7(C), 7(E), and 7(F) as the bases for its
withholdings. Id. (citing 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)).
Plaintiff appealed that response to the Department of Justice
Office of Information Policy, which resulted in BOP's
release on March 21, 2017, of an additional five pages,
though the record does not indicate what information those
pages contain. Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 3; Rodgers Decl.
Plaintiff's FOIA Request No. 2017-05599
received Request No. 2017-05599 on June 26, 2017. Rodgers
Decl. ¶ 9. The request sought, among other records, a
“full and complete list of workers of FCC
Beaumont.” ECF No. 24-3, Att. 9. On July 28, 2017,
Defendant responded by informing Plaintiff that, in response
to the entirety of his request, it had identified 53 pages of
responsive records and was releasing 41 pages in full and 12
partial pages. Rodgers Decl. ¶ 9; ECF No. 24-3, Att. 10.
Defendant cited FOIA Exemptions 6, 7(C), and 7(F) for any
redactions. ECF No. 24-3, Att. 10 (citing 5 U.S.C. §
552(b)). As to Plaintiff's specific request for a
complete staff list for FCC Beaumont, Defendant stated that
FOIA did not require it to “create lists, ” only
to “provide BOP generated documents, ” and thus
it stated that there were no responsive documents to that
request. ECF No. 24-3, Att. 10. It does not appear that
Plaintiff administratively appealed this request.
Defendant's January 2018 Letter to Plaintiff
January 18, 2018, and after Plaintiff had commenced this
action, Defendant sent a letter to Plaintiff further
supplementing its responses to both Request No. 2016-02619
and Request No. 2017-05599. See ECF No. 24-3, Att. 4.
Regarding the former request, Defendant stated that it was
re-releasing a single page with fewer redactions, but that it
would continue to redact other information under FOIA
Exemptions 6, 7(C), and 7(F). Id. Regarding the
latter request, Defendant also stated that it would release
additional pages, with some redactions remaining pursuant to
Exemptions 6, 7(C), and 7(F). Id. And as to
Plaintiff's specific requests for complete lists of staff
members at FCC Beaumont and two other facilities not at issue
in this action, Defendant stated that it would release the
names of the wardens at those facilities because doing so
“appear[ed] to outweigh any interest of privacy that
those individuals may have, but that with regard to staff
members junior to those wardens, . . . their privacy
interests, and safety interests attendant to their
identities, appear[ed] to outweigh any public interest in the
release of their names.” Id.
22, 2018, Defendant filed its motion to dismiss the complaint
or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. In arguing that
it is entitled to summary judgment, Case 1:17-cv-01807-TjK
Document 33 Filed 03/01/19 Page 5 of 14 Defendant
asserts that it conducted an adequate search for responsive
records, that it properly withheld the disputed information
under Exemptions 2, 6, 7(C), and 7(F), and that it complied
with FOIA's segregability requirement. See MSJ
at 4-15. In support of its motion, Defendant also submitted a
Vaughn Index describing its withholdings.
See ECF No. 24-4 (“Vaughn Index”).
Plaintiff filed two responses opposing Defendant's
motion, the second after the Court afforded Plaintiff an
opportunity to supplement his first response. See
Pl.'s Opp.; Pl.'s Supp. Opp. Plaintiffs principal
argument in both filings is that because Defendant allegedly
released a list of names and ...