ST. PAUL'S BENEV. ED. & MISS. INST. v. U. S.
506 F.Supp. 822 (1980)
ST. PAUL'S BENEVOLENT EDUCATIONAL AND MISSIONARY INSTITUTE, Providence of St. Joseph of the Capuchine Order and the National Council of Churches, Plaintiffs,
The UNITED STATES of America, William Foege, Donald A. Berreth and J. Michael Lane, Defendants,
Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company, Intervenors.
Civ. A. No. C 79-2047 A.
United States District Court, N. D. Georgia, Atlanta Division.
April 29, 1980.
Gerald F. Handley, Lokey & Bowden, Atlanta, Ga., for plaintiffs.
William Harper, U. S. Atty., Robert Castellani, Asst. U. S. Atty., Atlanta, Ga., for U. S.
Daryll Love and Allen S. C. Willingham, Powell, Goldstein, Frazier & Murphy, Atlanta, Ga., for Abbott Laboratories.
Arthur Howell, Jones, Bird & Howell, Atlanta, Ga., for Mead Johnson.
VINING, District Judge.
The controversy in this matter is the plaintiff's objection to the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) decision to disclose a computer tape and related tabulations to Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company, pursuant to a request by these parties under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552. (The plaintiffs originally filed their complaint against the United States and certain officers and employees of the CDC, but the above-named companies were subsequently permitted to intervene.) On November 8, 1979, the court issued a temporary restraining order preventing the CDC from disclosing to Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company the materials which were requested by them under the FOIA, and with the consent of the parties this order remains in effect. On January 8, 1980, the court remanded the case to the CDC for the development of a record articulating the basis for its decision to release the requested materials. Following an administrative hearing, the hearing officer recommended that the requested materials be disclosed under the FOIA and the CDC adopted that recommendation as its decision. The expanded record is now before the court on Abbott Laboratories' motion to dissolve the TRO and for a denial of injunctive relief.BACKGROUND
The CDC is a federal government agency within the Department of Health and Human Resources. The plaintiffs are a group of non-profit, church-related organizations
that from the winter of 1977 to December 1, 1978, conducted a survey to gather data on the feeding of infants in low-income families in the United States to determine whether the feeding pattern could be correlated with morbidity and mortality and to find out whether particular marketing practices influence the choice of a particular feeding pattern. The findings were to provide the basis for a report concerning breast-fed and formula-fed infants. For that reason the survey concentrated on questions concerning what influenced the mother to choose either breast-feeding or bottle-feeding and other questions that were related to the growth and development patterns of the babies.
The data for this survey was gathered by the plaintiffs through the use of a questionnaire prepared by them. This questionnaire was developed solely by the plaintiffs; there was no government participation in its design or drafting. The collection of the data — that is, the actual interviewing of the low-income mothers — was also conducted by the plaintiffs with absolutely no government participation. Several predominately low-income areas within the country, both rural and urban, that had significant populations of a major ethnic or racial group, were selected for the survey. Trained individuals from the selected areas did the actual interviewing and data collection and sent the results to New York. Approximately 1,650 questionnaires were completed by the interviewers by December 1, 1978. All the work and funding for the completion of the questionnaires was contributed by the plaintiffs or other non-governmental sources and, indeed, there was no government connection with the project at this stage.
Dr. Milo Shannon-Thornberry, then located in New York, was the original coordinator of this project. In February 1979, he was in charge of completing the plaintiffs' survey project. At that time, the questionnaires had been completed but the following work remained to be done on the survey project: