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WINE HOBBY, USA, INC. v. UNITED STATES BATF

September 10, 1973

WINE HOBBY, USA, INC.
v.
UNITED STATES BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS


Troutman, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: TROUTMAN

Troutman, District Judge.

 This is an action brought by the plaintiff under the Freedom of Information Act (the Act), 5 U.S.C. § 552, to obtain the names and addresses of all persons filing United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Form 1541 (registration for production of wine for family use) in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms regulations 26 CFR §§ 240, 540-543, provide that the head of a family may, without payment of tax, produce 200 gallons of wine a year for the use of his family, and not for sale, if he registers to do so by filing Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Form 1541. (Stip., Par. 3) After a determination is made that the person is qualified for an exemption, Form 1541 is stamped and one copy is returned to the registrant and the remaining copy placed in a file by the Bureau.

 Wine Hobby, U.S.A., Inc. is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal office in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It is engaged in the business of importing winemaking equipment and supplies from abroad as well as purchasing similar items in the United States and selling and distributing such items through retail stores, through franchises and by mail order to amateur winemakers. (Stip., Par. 2) In order to solicit business, Wine Hobby, U.S.A., Inc. mails out catalogs and notices of new items they offer for sale.

 Wine Hobby, U.S.A., Inc. seeks the names and addresses of all persons filing Form 1541 in the Mid-Atlantic region of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in order that they may forward catalogs and other announcements regarding equipment and supplies that plaintiff has for sale. (Stip., Par. 4)

 The Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, provides that each governmental agency shall make available to the public the information therein specified, including its organizational set-up, the methods by which it functions, its rules and procedure, its opinions, statements of policy, interpretations, manuals and instructions. Significantly, as regards the above information, not involved in this case, the act provides, inter alia, "to the extent required to prevent a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, an agency may delete identifying details * * *". 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(2).

 Section 552(b) provides:

 
"(b) This section does not apply to matters that are --
 
(1) specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of the national defense or foreign policy;
 
(2) related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency;
 
(3) specifically exempted from disclosure by statute;
 
(4) trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential;
 
(5) inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency;
 
(6) personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
 
(7) investigatory files compiled for law enforcement purposes except to the extent available by law to a party other than an agency;
 
(8) contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of, an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions; or
 
(9) geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells."

 The defendant contends that the names and addresses of those who have obtained a Form 1541 are protected by sub-paragraph (6), supra, as a "clearly ...


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