United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ALISHA R. SILBAUGH, Plaintiff,
PATRICK PIZZELLA, Acting Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor,  Defendant.
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion for
summary judgment (Dkt. No. 36). Having thoroughly considered
the briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral
argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion for the
reasons explained herein.
March 2017, Plaintiff filed a workers' compensation claim
with the Department of Labor's (“DOL”) Office
of Workers' Compensation Programs (“OWCP”).
(Dkt. No. 38 at 3.) On May 24, 2017, OWCP denied
Plaintiff's claim. (Id.; see Dkt. No.
38-1.) Plaintiff appealed OWCP's denial of her claim to
the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board
(“ECAB”), which divested OWCP of jurisdiction to
consider Plaintiff's claim during the pendency of the
ECAB appeal. (Dkt. No. 38 at 3-5.)
22, 2018, OWCP received a CD-R disc from Plaintiff.
(Id. at 4; Dkt. No. 38-3 at 2.) Plaintiff had
written her name, address, “May 18, 2018, ”
“Reconsideration, ” and a case number on the
disc. (See Dkt. No. 38-4 at 2.) OWCP did not review
the contents of the disc, as Plaintiff's ECAB appeal
remained pending and OWCP had denied Plaintiff's
underlying claim almost a year before. (Dkt. No. 38 at
4-5.) Further, as the disc did not comply with
the rules governing reconsideration requests made to OWCP,
OWCP recorded its receipt of the disc in its physical
evidence log and filed the disc as physical evidence
supporting Plaintiff's claim. (Dkt. Nos. 38 at 4, 38-4 at
2, 38-5 at 2.)
31, 2018, ECAB denied Plaintiff's appeal. (Id.
at 5; Dkt. No. 38-6 at 2-4.) Plaintiff subsequently contacted
the Seattle office of OWCP's Division of Federal
Employees' Compensation (“DFEC”) and stated
that she had submitted a reconsideration request to OWCP.
(Dkt. No. 38 at 5.) DFEC responded that it had not received a
reconsideration request, as Plaintiff's case file did not
include written documentation of such a request.
5, 2018, Plaintiff sent DOL a request pursuant to the Freedom
of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552,
seeking “the one-page document admitting that USPS
parcel was delivered, received, and currently tracked in
OWCP” (the “proof of delivery request”).
(Dkt. No. 38 at 6; see Dkt. No. 38-7 at 2.) Arginia
Karamoko, a Government Information Specialist employed by
DOL's Office of Information Services (“OIS”),
entered the proof of delivery request into DOL's
SIMS-FOIA database and assigned it a tracking number. (Dkt.
No. 38 at 6- 7.) Marcus Tapia, the District Director for
DFEC's Seattle office, began processing the request on
June 29, 2018. (Id. at 7.) Tapia examined
Plaintiff's iFECS case file for evidence that Plaintiff
had filed a reconsideration request, but could not find a
written request for reconsideration.
(Id.)Tapia located a written record of a
voicemail a claims examiner left with Plaintiff on June 1,
2018, which informed Plaintiff that her claim file did not
contain a request for reconsideration. (Id. at 8.)
On July 2, 2018, OWCP sent Plaintiff a disc containing a copy
of the contents of Plaintiff's case file and a cover
letter responding to the proof of delivery request and
describing Plaintiff's right to appeal. (Id. at
8-9; Dkt. No. 38-11 at 2-4.) Plaintiff did not appeal
OWCP's response to the proof of delivery FOIA request.
(Dkt. No. 37 at 3.)
2018, Plaintiff submitted two additional FOIA requests to
DOL, seeking a record of a telephone conversation she had
with OWCP's Seattle office and communications between the
Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) and OWCP.
(Dkt. No. 40 at 3.) DOL did not register these requests due
to technical issues with its FOIA inbox. (Id. at 4.)
In August 2018, Plaintiff resubmitted her requests.
(Id.) In September 2018, Karamoko notified Plaintiff
that DOL had not received her July 2018 requests and told
Plaintiff that her August 2018 requests were not perfected
because Plaintiff had not included her address and phone
number. (Id.) Plaintiff did not subsequently provide
the information, and OIS did not take further action on
Plaintiff's July and August 2018 FOIA requests.
August 13, 2018, Plaintiff filed her complaint in this
action. (See Dkt. No. 5.) Plaintiff sought documents
responsive to her previous FOIA requests, as well as an order
directing Defendant to conduct searches reasonably likely to
discover responsive records, to produce any nonexempt
records, and to provide a Vaughn index regarding any
documents withheld pursuant to a FOIA exemption.
(Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiff also sought to enjoin Defendant
from withholding nonexempt records. (Id. at
April 9, 2019, Plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to DOL
seeking the “phone record of the ‘recorded and
monitored' conversation with the Seattle District Office
. . . [that occurred] on Friday, July 13, around 3:09pm . . .
with Glen Crownman [sic], Seattle District Manager . .
.” (the “phone record request”). (Dkt. No.
39 at 3) (alterations in original). Karamoko entered the
phone record request into DOL's SIMS-FOIA database,
assigned it a tracking number, and notified Janice Semper,
DFEC's Government Information Specialist, of the request.
(Id. at 4.) On April 20, 2019, Semper searched
Plaintiff's iFECS case file and found “a CA-110
notice of a July 13, 2018 phone conversation” signed by
Glen Croman. (Id. at 5.) Semper contacted Croman and
OWCP's National Office, but neither had created an audio
recording of the call. (Id.) On April 25, 2019,
Semper produced the July 13, 2018 CA-110 notice to Plaintiff
with an accompanying cover letter. (Id.;
see Dkt. No. 39-4 at 2-4.) Semper did not withhold
any portion of the responsive records. (Dkt. No. 39 at 6.)
April 12, 2019, Plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to DOL
seeking “all communications between FAA and OWCP”
(the “FAA request”) (Dkt. No. 39 at 6;
see Dkt. No. 39-5 at 2.) Plaintiff later clarified
that she sought only communications between the FAA and OWCP
related to her case file. (See Dkt. Nos. 39 at 7,
39-7 at 2-7.) Semper searched Plaintiff's iFECS case file
and identified 351 pages of responsive records, which
“referenced FAA either by cc or addressed to/from FAA
directly.” (Dkt. No. 39 at 7.) Semper also contacted
Hoffer and requested that she and other claims examiners who
may have worked with Plaintiff search for any responsive
records in their emails or hard drives. (Id.) Hoffer
and several other claims examiners conducted the searches
using Plaintiff's full name and workers' compensation
claim file number, and they did not find any responsive
documents. (Id. at 7-8.) On May 15, 2019, Semper
produced the 351 pages of responsive documents to Plaintiff
with an accompanying cover letter. (Id. at 8.)
Semper did not withhold any of the documents or alter those
that were produced. (Id.)
16, 2019, DOL sent Plaintiff a supplemental response to the
proof of delivery request, which included a scanned copy of
the disc labeled “Reconsideration, ” a redacted
copy of OWCP's physical evidence log, and a copy of
Hoffer's memorandum regarding the disc. (Dkt. No. 38 at
9; see Dkt. No. 38-12.)
moves for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 36.) Plaintiff has not
filed a response to Defendant's motion for summary