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NBC v. UNITED STATES SBA

January 28, 1993

National Broadcasting Company, Plaintiff,
v.
United States Small Business Administration, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LOUIS J. FREEH

 LOUIS J. FREEH, U.S.D.J.

 In this action, plaintiff National Broadcasting Company ("NBC") seeks access to certain documents in the possession of defendant the United States Small Business Administration (the "SBA"). The parties have cross-moved for summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons stated below, both motions are granted in part and denied in part. Absent further objection consistent with this Order, the SBA shall produce Document 5 within ten (10) days. However, all other documents requested by NBC are exempt from disclosure, and need not be produced.

 BACKGROUND

 On or about January 23, 1992, NBC submitted a request for information to the SBA pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552. In that request, NBC sought access to agency documents relating to the financial transactions of three companies: Apex Energy Corporation ("Apex"), Wood River Capital Corporation ("Wood River"), and Bridger Capital Corporation ("Bridger").

 Wood River and Bridger are licensed "small business investment companies" ("SBICs") which had previously participated in the SBA's SBIC program. *fn1" Both companies are now engaged in self-liquidation pursuant to terms established by the SBA.

 Apex is an ongoing company financed in party by Wood River and Bridger. Among other business activities, Apex engages in drilling for natural gas reserves.

 Because its original request for information encompassed a large number of documents, at the SBA's suggestion, NBC reformulated and narrowed that request several times. On March 11, 1992, the SBA released some documents in response to that reformulated request. However, the SBA refused to produce other relevant documents pursuant to FOIA Exemptions 2, 4, 5, 8, and 9. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(2), (4), (5), (8), and (9). After NBC appealed the SBA's partial denial of its request, the SBA released several additional documents, most of which were partially redacted.

 Following the initial pretrial conference in this action, NBC informed the Court and the SBA that it would further limit its request to ten (10) documents:

 1. Letter dated June 6, 1991, from Herbert M. Friedman, Esq. ("Friedman") to Gail G. Green ("Green"), Chief, SBA Account Resolution Branch.

 2. Letter dated May 29, 1991, from Brent J. Morse ("Morse"), President of Apex, to Wood River and Bridger.

 3. Undated Apex Energy Cash Flow Projection and Estimate.

 4. Sand Wash Basin Evaluation memorandum dated May 22, 1991, from Tom ...


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