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CAUSE OF ACTION INSTITUTE v. NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION and 16 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on July 13th, 2017

We have added 105 documents from 13 FOIA cases filed between July 2, 2017 and July 8, 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. CAUSE OF ACTION INSTITUTE v. NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION (filed Jul 6, 2017)
    Cause of Action Institute submitted two FOIA requests to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for records concerning the retention of social media messages. Cause of Action Institute requested a fee waiver for its first request and expedited processing as part of its second request. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. It granted Cause of Action’s fee waiver request pertaining to its first FOIA request and denied its request for expedited processing in regard to the second FOIA request. The agency indicated that no charges would be incurred as a result of processing the second FOIA request, but later changed its mind and told Cause of Action to provide further information to supplement its fee waiver request. Cause of Action did so. The agency then invoked unusual circumstances. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Cause of Action Institute filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. Wright v. Tennessee Department of Health Office of Vital Records (filed Jul 3, 2017)
  3. PRIVACY INTERNATIONAL v. NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY et al (filed Jul 5, 2017)
    Privacy International submitted FOIA requests to the National Security Agency and the other members of the intelligence community for records concerning the agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to exchange signals intelligence. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, Privacy International filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (filed Jul 5, 2017)
    The Federation for American Immigration Reform submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Defense for records concerning communications with the Southern Poverty Law Center and/or the Anti-Defamation League pertaining to hate crimes. FAIR also requested records pertaining to agency policies on how to deal with hate crimes. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, FAIR filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  5. ROSEBROCK et al v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (filed Jul 5, 2017)
    Robert Rosebrock and Judicial Watch submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Veterans Affairs for records pertaining to Rosebrock, whose request was also made under the Privacy Act. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Rosebrock and Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  6. JAMES MADISON PROJECT et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jul 5, 2017)
    The James Madison Project and reporter Shane Harris submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for records concerning discussions of firing or terminating former FBI Director James Comey. The James Madison Project and Harris also requested expedited processing. The agency acknowledged the requests and granted expedited processing. The agency also invoked unusual circumstances and told the James Madison Project and Harris that it would take more time to respond to their request. The James Madison Project and Harris then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. MESSINA LAW FIRM, P.C. v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jul 5, 2017)
    The Messina Law Firm submitted a FOIA request to the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys for records concerning a lawsuit filed in New York against Facebook. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Messina Law Firm filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  8. MCDADE v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jul 6, 2017)
    Michael McDade, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning his criminal prosecution. The Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, McDade filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON v. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (filed Jul 6, 2017)
    Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington submitted two FOIA requests to the General Services Administration. The first FOIA request concerned records of communications to or from Acting GSA Administrator Tim Horne, as well as communications to or from former GSA Administrator Norman Dong from Jan. 20 to Jan. 24. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but told CREW that the request was too broad. CREW disagreed, but narrowed the scope of the request slightly. The agency told CREW it was processing several hundred emails. The second request concerned records related to Trump Old Post Office LLC, the company operating the Trump International Hotel. In response to CREW’s request for a fee waiver, the agency told CREW that no charges would be incurred. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency pertaining to either request, CREW filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  10. LAF et al v. Department of Veterans Affairs (filed Jul 6, 2017)
    Rebecca Moss, a veteran, and LAF, an advocacy organization providing legal services for people living in poverty, submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Veterans Affairs for records concerning Moss’s claims file. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Moss and LAF filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. WP COMPANY LLC v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jul 7, 2017)
    Washington Post Deputy Editor David Fallis and Reporter Lenny Bernstein submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning the DEA’s investigation of prescription drug diversion by Cardinal Health and/or CVS. The request specifically asked for records of communications between the Office of the Attorney General and Jamie Gorelick and Craig Morford, who represented Cardinal Health and CVS. The Post also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency denied its request for expedited processing and indicated that the request qualified for unusual circumstances. The Post made a series of queries pertaining to its request and eventually filed an administrative appeal challenging the agency’s failure to respond. OIP denied the appeal, arguing that no adverse determination had been made. The Post then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE et al (filed Jul 7, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted FOIA requests to the Air Force and the Secret Service for records concerning two trips taken by President Trump and one trip taken by former President Obama. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from either agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  13. Bhalla v. Kelly et al (filed Jul 7, 2017)
    Linda Bhalia, a naturalized U.S. citizen, filed a petition for alien finance with the Department of Homeland Security, which was denied. She then filed a petition for immediate alien relative, which was still pending. After the agency failed to act on her petition, Bhalia filed suit. This is not a FOIA suit.
    Issues: FOIA not mentioned

In addition, we have added 40 documents from 4 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

  1. v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services et al (filed Jun 27, 2017)
  2. COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS CONNECTICUT v. Make the Road New York et al (filed Jun 27, 2017)
  3. Niro et al v. United States et al (filed Jun 26, 2017)
  4. Hernandez v. United States of America (filed Jun 26, 2017)

From → FOIA, PACER

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