Edelman v. Securities and Exchange Commission

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RICHARD EDELMAN, Plaintiff, v. Civil Action No. 14-1140 (RDM) SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, Defendant. MEMORANDUM OPINION Plaintiff Richard Edelman operates a website on which he publishes information relating to the transfer of “ownership of the Empire State Building” to the Empire State Realty Trust (“ESRT”). Edelman v. SEC, 172 F. Supp. 3d 133, 138 (D.D.C. 2016) (Edelman I). Following the formation of the ESRT, investors in the Empire State Building “bec[a]me investors in the ESRT.” Dkt. 39-2 at 1 (Pl.’s SUMF ¶ 2). In 2014, Edelman lodged six requests for records under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), seeking documents relating to the SEC’s “review of the . . . transaction.” Edelman I, 172 F. Supp. 3d at 138. Among other records, Edelman requested “a set of complaints submitted by Empire State Building investors to the SEC.” Id. at 140. Dissatisfied with the SEC’s response, Edelman filed this FOIA action. Dkt. 1. The Court has already resolved two rounds of dueling motions for summary judgment, see Edelman I, 172 F. Supp. 3d 133; Edelman v. SEC, 239 F. Supp. 3d 45 (D.D.C. 2017) (Edelman II), and the matter is now before the Court on the third—and final—round of summary judgment motions, see Dkt. 37; Dkt. 39. The only question that remains is whether the SEC may withhold the identities of thirty- six investors (or associated parties) in the Empire State Building who contacted the SEC to voice concerns regarding the creation of the ESRT. The answer turns on whether the complainants’ privacy interest outweighs the public interest in knowing their identities. Applying this balancing test, the Court concludes that the SEC is not required to disclose the identities of the thirty-six complainants. The Court, accordingly, will GRANT the SEC’s motion for summary judgment, Dkt. 37, and will DENY Edelman’s cross-motion for summary judgment, Dkt. 39. I. BACKGROUND The factual background and procedural history of this case have been described at length in the Court’s earlier memorandum opinions. See Edelman I, 172 F. Supp. 3d at 138–42; Edelman II, 239 F. Supp. 3d at 49–50. As relevant to the motions currently before the Court, the SEC produced 1,447 pages of consumer complaint documents. Dkt. 37-1 at 1–2 (Second Barss Decl. ¶ 4). In doing so, however, the SEC redacted the names of seventy individuals “who had communicated their concerns . . . about the ESRT transaction” to the SEC. Id. (Second Barss Decl. ¶ 4). The seventy complainants “included individual investors in the [Empire State Building], relatives of investors, and trustees of family trusts that hold . . . shares” in the property. Id. (Second Barss Decl. ¶ 4). The last time this case was before the Court, the SEC invoked Exemption 6 to justify the redactions. Exemption 6 “protects information about individuals in ‘personnel and medical files and similar files’ when its disclosure ‘would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of ...

Original document
Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals