35 F.Supp.2d 977 (E.D.Mich. 1998), Civ. A. 97-40520, Rugiero v. United States Dept. of Justice

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 97-40520
Citation:35 F.Supp.2d 977
Party Name:Rugiero v. United States Dept. of Justice
Case Date:October 19, 1998
Court:United States District Courts, 6th Circuit, Eastern District of Michigan
 
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Page 977

35 F.Supp.2d 977 (E.D.Mich. 1998)

Patrick RUGIERO, Plaintiff,

v.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE and United States Department of Treasury, Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 97-40520.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division.

Oct. 19, 1998

Page 978

Alan C. Applebaum, Southfield, MI, for Patrick Rugiero.

Charles H. Keen, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Tax Div., Washington, DC, William L. Woodard,y,

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U.S. Attorney's Office, Detroit, MI, for Dept. of Justice.

Charles H. Keen, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Tax Div., Washington, DC, for Dept. of Treasury.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

GADOLA, District Judge.

Before the court are two separate motions for summary judgment filed by defendants, United States Department of Justice and United States Department of Treasury. This court held oral argument on the instant motions on September 15, 1998. At that time, this court took the majority of issues related to the motions for summary judgment under advisement. However, on September 16, 1998, this court did enter an order disposing of a number of matters. This court is now prepared to rule on the remaining issues raised in the motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, this court will grant defendants' motions in part, and deny them in part.

Factual Background

This is an action brought under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (FOIA). FOIA provides for disclosure of information to the public unless the requested records are exempt under one or more of the nine statutory exemptions. Department of the Air Force v. Rose, 425 U.S. 352, 360-61, 96 S.Ct. 1592, 48 L.Ed.2d 11 (1976). The plaintiff is Patrick Rugiero, and the defendants are the United States Department of Justice and Department of Treasury.

Plaintiff submitted FOIA requests seeking disclosure of any and all documents about himself from several components of the Department of Justice and Department of Treasury. Those components include the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ-Crim.Div.), the Detroit Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI-Detroit), Headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI-HQ), Executive Office of United States Attorneys (EOUSA), United States Secret Service (USSS), United States Marshal Service (USMS), United States Customs Service (USCS), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Plaintiff also claims that he submitted FOIA requests to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ-Tax).

The components responded to plaintiff's requests by searching their records to determine whether any responsive documents existed. DOJ-Crim.Div. (Count I) located two responsive documents. It released one of the documents to plaintiff with certain information redacted pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6) and (b)(7)(C). It determined that the other document originated in EOUSA, so it referred the document to that component for processing and direct response to plaintiff. EOUSA reviewed the document and released it in full to plaintiff.

FBI-Detroit (Count II) located one document with five pages responsive to plaintiff's request, and released to plaintiff one page in its entirety and the remaining four pages with certain information redacted under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(C). FBI-HQ (Count III) searched its records and found no pertinent records responsive to plaintiff's FOIA request.

EOUSA (Count IV) located 1, 211 pages of responsive documents. Of this total, it released 292 pages to plaintiff in their entirety and 31 pages with portions withheld. It withheld 888 pages in their entirety (821 of which were grand jury materials). EOUSA withheld the information pursuant to the FOIA exemptions under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3), (b)(5), (b)(6), (b)(7)(C), (b)(7)(D), (b)(7)(E), and (b)(7)(F). EOUSA also determined that an additional 175 pages in its possession had originated with DEA and an additional 73 pages had originated with ATF, so it referred those pages to DEA and ATF for FOIA processing and direct response to plaintiff.

USSS (Count V) searched its records and found no pertinent records responsive to plaintiff's FOIA request.

USCS (Count VI) located one responsive document consisting of two pages, which it

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released to plaintiff with certain information redacted pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(2) and (b)(7)(C).

USMS (Count VII) located 46 documents responsive to plaintiff's request. It withheld none of these documents in their entirety, released one document to plaintiff in its entirety, and released 43 documents to plaintiff with certain information redacted pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(2), (b)(7)(C), and (b)(7)(E). USMS determined that the remaining two documents had originated in EOUSA, so it referred those document to EOUSA for disclosure determination and direct response to plaintiff.

ATF (Count VIII) located 105 pages responsive to plaintiff's FOIA requests, and released all responsive document to plaintiff with information redacted pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(c), (b)(7)(D), and (b)(7)(F).

The Internal Revenue Service (Count IX) claimed that it found no responsive documents.

DOJ-Tax (Count X) claims that plaintiff never properly complied with the administrative procedures required under FOIA, and thus it has not produced any documents related to a request by plaintiff.

DEA (Count XI) located 399 pages of responsive document. It released 100 pages to plaintiff with portions redacted, and withheld the remaining 299 pages in their entirety. DEA asserts that it redacted or withheld information pursuant to the FOIA exemptions set forth in 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(2), (b)(7)(C), (b)(7)(D), and (b)(7)(F).

In the present suit, plaintiff seeks to compel disclosure of documents or information withheld by the components on grounds that they are exempt under FOIA. Count I pertains to the FOIA request made to DOJ-Crim.Div.; Count II pertains to FBI-Detroit; Count III pertains to FBI-HQ; Count IV pertains to EOUSA; Count V pertains to the USSS; Count VI pertains to the USCS; Count VII pertains to the USMS; Count VIII pertains to ATF; Count IX pertains to the IRS; Count X pertains to DOJ-Tax; and Count XI pertains to DEA.

Discussion

1. Standard for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions; answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to the existence of an essential element of the non-moving party's case on which the non-moving party would bear the burden of proof at trial. Martin v. Ohio Turnpike Commission, 968 F.2d 606, 608 (6th Cir.1992); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the facts and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. 60 Ivy Street Corporation v. Alexander, 822 F.2d 1432, 1435 (6th Cir.1987). The court is not required or permitted, however, to judge the evidence or make findings of fact. Id. at 1435-36. The moving party has the burden of showing conclusively that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Id. at 1435.

A fact is "material" for purposes of summary judgment where proof of that fact would have the effect of establishing or refuting an essential element of the cause of action or a defense advanced by the parties. Kendall v. Hoover Co., 751 F.2d 171, 174 (6th Cir.1984). In other words, the disputed fact must be one which might affect outcome of the suit under the substantive law controlling the issue. Henson v. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 14 F.3d 1143, 1148 (6th Cir.1994). A dispute over a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Id. Accordingly, where a reasonable jury could not find that the non-moving party is entitled to a verdict, there is no genuine issue for trial and summary judgment is appropriate. Feliciano v. City of Cleveland, 988 F.2d 649 (6th Cir.1993) .

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Once the moving party carries its initial burden of demonstrating that no genuine issues of material fact are in dispute, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to present specific facts to prove that there is a genuine issue for trial. To create a genuine issue of material fact, the non-moving party must present more than just some evidence of a disputed issue. As the United States Supreme Court stated in Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986):

There is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. If the [non-moving party's] evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.

(Citations omitted); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Consequently, the non-moving party must do more than raise some doubt as to the existence of a fact; the non-moving party must produce evidence that would be sufficient to require submission of the issue to the jury. Lucas v. Leaseway Multi Transp. Serv., Inc., 738 F.Supp. 214, 217 (E.D.Mich.1990), aff'd, 929 F.2d 701 (6th Cir.1991).

2. FOIA

The FOIA statute provides in relevant part:

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