Yonemoto v. Dept. of Veterans Affair, No. 10-15180 (9th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, an employee of the Veterans Health Administration, submitted eight requests under the Freedom of Information Act, (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a, primarily asking for emails to and from specified individuals. At issue was whether an agency fulfilled its disclosure obligation by offering to supply the documents to the requester, but only in his capacity as an employee of that agency. Also at issue was the application to internal emails of FOIA Exemption 6, which provided that an agency could withhold "personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." The court held that plaintiff's claim as to the 157 emails was not mooted by the VA's offer to provide him the records in his capacity as its employee. The court remanded for the district court to consider the VA's claimed exceptions as to those emails in the first instance. The court also held that, as to the VA's application of Exemption 6 to the nine in camera emails, the district court's decision was vacated and remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on January 18, 2012.