United States District Court, D. Nevada
before the court is defendant Treasury Inspector General for
Tax Administration's (“TIGTA”) motion for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 12). Plaintiff Peter Janangelo,
Jr. (“Janangelo”) filed a response (ECF No. 13),
to which TIGTA replied (ECF No. 17).
before the court is Janangelo's motion for summary
judgment. (ECF No. 14). TIGTA filed a response (ECF No. 18),
to which Janangelo replied (ECF No. 23).
present case stems from a letter Janangelo filed with TIGTA
on November 3, 2015, detailing a Freedom of Information Act
(“FOIA”) request. (ECF No. 12). The FOIA request
sought “a copy of the TIGTA Report concerning . . .
TIGTA Complaint #55-1409-0099-C.” (ECF No. 12-2 at
TIGTA complaint #55-1409-0099-C (“TIGTA
complaint”) came as a result of a congressional inquiry
from Representative Joseph Heck (“Heck”). (ECF
No. 12-2 at 2). Janangelo prompted Heck's inquiry by
representing to him alleged misconduct of an IRS employee,
Debra W. Thompson (“Thompson”). (ECF No. 12-2 at
December 9, 2015, TIGTA responded to Janangelo's FOIA
request with a Glomar response, which stated that
“[t]o the extent you are requesting documents
pertaining to a third-party, TIGTA can neither admit nor deny
the existence of responsive records.” (ECF No. 12-2 at
7). TIGTA asserted this Glomar response because the
“request seeks access to the types of documents for
which there is no public interest that outweighs the privacy
interests established and protected by the FOIA (5 U.S.C.
§§ 552(b)(7)(C) and (b)(6)).” (ECF No. 12-2
December 29, 2015, Janangelo appealed TIGTA's
Glomar response and asserted that he
“require[d] a copy of TIGTA's Report of TIGTA
Complaint#: 55-1409-009-C to defend [himself] against Debra
W. Thompson's July 13, 2015 proposal to terminate [his]
employment with the Internal Revenue Service.” (ECF No.
12-2 at 11). Janangelo argued that the § 522(b)(6)
exception was inapplicable because the FOIA request did not
seek personnel files. (ECF No 12-2 at 12). Janangelo also
argued that the § 522(b)(7)(C) exception was similarly
inapplicable because the FOIA request sought “a copy of
TIGTA's Report” regarding the TIGTA complaint-a
document not compiled for law enforcement purposes. (ECF No.
12-2 at 12).
February 5, 2016, TIGTA affirmed its original denial of
Janangelo's FOIA request, again citing the § 522
(b)(6) and (b)(7)(C) exemptions. (ECF No. 12-2 at 13).
filed the underlying complaint on April 20, 2016, asserting
one claim for violation of FOIA. (ECF No. 1).
Legal Standard & Discussion
Summary Judgment in FOIA Cases
the facts are rarely in dispute in FOIA cases, courts need
not analyze whether a genuine issue of material fact exists
to grant summary judgment. Minier v. Central Intelligence
Agency, 88 F.3d 796, 800 (9th Cir. 1996). Rather, the
court views the facts in a light most favorable to the
requestor and applies a two-step inquiry whereby it must (1)
determine whether the agency has conducted a search
“reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant
documents, ” and (2) examine whether the withheld
information falls within one of the nine FOIA exemptions.
Zemansky v. U.S. E.P.A., 767 F.2d 569, 571 (9th Cir.
1985) (quotation marks and citation omitted). “The
agency resisting disclosure of requested information has the
burden of proving the applicability of an exemption.”
Minier, 88 F.3d at 800 (citing Church of
Scientology v. United States Dep't of the Army, 611
F.2d 738, 742 (9th Cir. 1979)).
a government agency may refuse to confirm or deny the
existence of records through a Glomar response if
the claimed “exemption would itself preclude the
acknowledgment of such documents.” Id. (citing
Hunt v. Central Intelligence Agency, 981 F.2d 1116,
1118 (9th Cir. 1992)).