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Reaves v. Jewell

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 26, 2014

OSBORNE MARK REAVES
v.
SALLY JEWELL, Secretary Department of Interior

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DeBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Presently pending and ready for resolution in this Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") case are three motions: (1) a motion for redaction of personal contact information filed by Plaintiff Osborne Mark Reaves ("Plaintiff" or "Mr. Reaves") (ECF No. 7); (2) a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment filed by Defendant (ECF No. 8); and (3) a motion to strike Plaintiff's surreply filed by Defendant (ECF No. 14). The court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion to redact will be granted. Defendant's motion to dismiss will be granted, but Plaintiff may submit an amended complaint within fourteen (14) days. Defendant's motion to strike will be granted.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff Osborne Mark Reaves, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint on July 14, 2014 against the United States Department of the Interior ("Defendant") under the federal Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq. The following facts are alleged in his complaint. Plaintiff is a police lieutenant employed by the United States Park Police ("Park Police").[1] Plaintiff received a letter of reprimand issued by the Park Police on April 23, 2014, stemming from an incident that occurred on July 4, 2013. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 3). Plaintiff represents that he filed an EEO Complaint regarding the July 4, 2013 incident. ( Id. ). He states that he filed a FOIA request by email dated May 19, 2014 directed to Charis Wilson, a FOIA Officer with the National Park Service, "request[ing] access to documents in connection with U.S. Park Police Administrative Complaint #13-33392 and CN# 13-25704." ( Id. ¶ 5). Plaintiff requested:

Any and all documents located in the case jacket of the above referenced case numbers to include the entire report of investigation; the Internal Affairs disposition report; transcripts of interviews taken during the investigation; handwritten notes generated by members of the Internal Affairs Unit; the interoffice memorandum concerning CN #13-33392 that states the disposition and proposed discipline, any and all written reports submitted by witnesses/suspects; any and all materials produced or reviewed by the Acting Commander of the Office of Professional Responsibility Captain Michael Libby.

(ECF No. 1-1, at 1-2). In a follow-up email dated May 19, 2014 to Charis Wilson, Plaintiff requested "any and all emails sent or received by the Acting Commander of the Office of Professional Responsibility Captain Michael Libby regarding U.S. Park Police Administrative Complaint #13-33392 and CN#13-25705." (ECF No. 1-2, at 1). By email dated June 3, 2014, Captain Michael Libby stated:

This is the Administrative release of the file for IAU case # 130089. As an employee you[] are entitled to a copy of the file. This is NOT a release under FOIA or by your request. The FOIA request you filed will be handled under the normal process and regulations.

(ECF No. 1-3) (emphasis in original).[2] Plaintiff contends that he reviewed the IAU case jacket and found that the IAU "violated policy and made investigatory errors while conducting this investigation." (ECF No. 1 ¶ 8). In the complaint, Plaintiff indicated that he had not received any correspondence regarding his FOIA request from Defendant since the email from Captain Libby on June 3, 2014. ( Id. ¶ 9). Plaintiff believes that Defendant is withholding records that were part of the May 19, 2014 FOIA request. ( Id. ).

B. Procedural History

On August 25, 2014, Plaintiff filed an unopposed motion for redaction of personal contact information. (ECF No. 7). On September 19, 2014, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (ECF No. 8). Plaintiff opposed the motion (ECF No. 10), and Defendant replied (ECF No. 12). On November 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a surreply. (ECF No. 13). On November 25, 2014, Defendant moved to strike the surreply. (ECF No. 14).

II. Analysis

A. Plaintiff's Motion to Redact

Plaintiff's motion to redact is in essence a motion to seal his complaint and accompanying exhibits. Plaintiff requests that certain personal identifying information be redacted from those filings. ( See ECF No. 7). Plaintiff asserts that the complaint, summonses, and exhibits contain his home address, personal e-mail, and phone number, which he seeks to be redacted. Plaintiff explains that he is a police officer and "the release of this information to the general public could place [him] in danger or make [him] susceptible to harassment." ( Id. ). Plaintiff also asserts that he has already found documents with his personal contact information displayed on several ...


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