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NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO INC. et al v. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY et al and 15 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on January 19th, 2017

We have added 86 documents from 16 FOIA cases filed between January 8, 2017 and January 14, 2017. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO INC. et al v. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY et al (filed Jan 13, 2017)
    Robert Benincasa, a producer for the investigations unit of National Public Radio, submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for database information concerning property acquisitions resulting from a natural disaster. The agency told Benincasa that identifying information such as names and addresses would be redacted under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). Benincasa filed an administrative appeal, which was denied on the basis of Exemption 6. Benincasa and NPR then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 6 – Invasion of privacy, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. EMANUEL v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jan 11, 2017)
    Joseph Emanuel, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Prisons for photos taken in connection with a disciplinary action against Emanuel. The photos were redacted and Emanuel filed an administrative appeal. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Emanuel filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  3. SLUSS v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jan 11, 2017)
    Matthew Sluss, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice’s International Prisoner Transfer Unit for records concerning prisoner exchange policies between the U.S. and Canada. The agency acknowledged receipt of his request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Sluss filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  4. ELGABROWNY v. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY et al (filed Jan 11, 2017)
    Ibrahim Elgabrowny, convicted of conspiracy charges relating to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, submitted FOIA requests to the CIA and the Justice Department for records concerning his trial. He also submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests. The CIA denied his request for expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from the agencies, Elgabrowny filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  5. ALTSCHUL v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Jan 12, 2017)
    Todd Altschul, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Prisons for records about a claim he had filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The agency withheld 18 pages under Exemption 5 (privileges), Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), and Exemption 7 (law enforcement records). Altschul does not indicate that he filed an administrative appeal, but because he notes that the Office of Information Policy has possession of the records, it may have received them as part of an administrative review. Nevertheless, Altschul filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 7 – Law enforcement records
  6. Ford v. Ciraolo-Klepper et al (filed Jan 10, 2017)
    Melba Ford submitted filed suit against the Justice Department, the IRS, and other agencies alleging that the IRS routinely falsified individuals’ data and conspired to destroy individuals’ constitutional rights. This is not a FOIA suit.
    Issues: FOIA not mentioned
  7. KREMERS URBAN PHARMACEUTICALS INC. v. UNITED STATES FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (filed Jan 10, 2017)
    Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals submitted two FOIA requests to the FDA for records concerning the reason the agency decided to reject a new drug application from Kremers. The agency acknowledged receipt of both requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. Heaney v. United States Department of State (filed Jan 10, 2017)
    Hunter Heaney submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning its policy on non-military aid to foreign countries. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Heaney filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. FREE MARKET ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CLINIC v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed Jan 11, 2017)
    The Free Market Environmental Law Clinic submitted a FOIA request to the National Institute for Environmental Health Services for records concerning work done by Dr. Gloria Jahnke in her role as the agency’s representative to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. FMELC also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but denied the request on the basis that the records were not agency records. The agency also classified FMELC as a commercial requester and assessed it $46 in fees. FMELC filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, FMELC filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  10. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE (filed Jan 11, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for records concerning the decision not to conduct an assessment of the damage to national security from Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a private email server. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  11. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (filed Jan 11, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to Fort Leonard Wood for records concerning a PowerPoint presentation on operational security delivered to soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood depicting David Petraeus and Hillary Clinton as examples of “insider threats.” Fort Leonard Wood acknowledged receipt of the request and referred it to the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of Defense. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  12. ROSS v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Jan 11, 2017)
    Michael Ross, a State Department employee, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning the agency’s decision to fill the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations Executive Director vacancy on a non-competitive basis. Ross also submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning climate surveys conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman for the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations. Ross submitted a third FOIA request for records concerning the Islamabad and Moscow Project Directors. The agency acknowledged receipt of all three requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency as to when the requests would be completed, Ross filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. PORUP v. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (filed Jan 12, 2017)
    Jens Porup, a freelance reporter on national security and cybersecurity issues, submitted a number of FOIA requests to the CIA concerning its involvement with assassinations of foreign leaders and other allegedly illegal activities. The CIA told Porup that it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of such records. Porup then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  14. Mertz v. Social Security Administration (filed Jan 12, 2017)
    John Mertz submitted a FOIA request to the Social Security Administration for records concerning how the agency received his bank statements from Independence Bank and copies of those statements. The agency denied his request. Mertz filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, he filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  15. NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY et al v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jan 13, 2017)
    New York Times reporter Charlie Savage submitted two FOIA requests to the National Security Division of the Department of Justice for copies of the 1984 Olson Memo, which Savage characterized as the legal basis for supporting the legality of NSA surveillance not covered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. His second FOIA request asked for the cover letter sent with the Olson memo. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the New York Times filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  16. STORY OF STUFF PROJECT et al v. UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE (filed Jan 13, 2017)
    The Story of Stuff Project and the Courage Campaign Institute submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Forest Service for records concerning the water diversion facilities constructed and operated on Forest Service land near the West Fork of Strawberry Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the Forest Service, the Story of Stuff Project and the Courage Campaign Institute filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

From → FOIA, PACER

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