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STATE OF CALIFORNIA v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY and 19 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on August 17th, 2017

We have added 129 documents from 20 FOIA cases filed between August 6, 2017 and August 12, 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. STATE OF CALIFORNIA v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Aug 11, 2017)
    The State of California submitted FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning the process the agency has taken to ensure that Administrator Scott Pruitt is in compliance with federal ethics regulations and obligations and the agency’s policies and procedures for determining who (if anyone) can assume the powers of the Administrator if Pruitt is disqualified from participating in a matter. The State also requested a fee waiver for some of its requests. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, granted a fee waiver for some requests, and indicated that it was processing them. After hearing nothing further from the agency, California filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. TERRY et al v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Aug 6, 2017)
    Kent Terry, brother of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, and David Codrea, an Internet blogger on Second Amendment issues, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning Operation Fast and Furious and correspondence to and from Kevin O’Reilly. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Terry and Codrea filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  3. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY (filed Aug 7, 2017)
    Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Interior for records concerning the relocation of staff from the South Interior Building to the Main Interior Building. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, PEER filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY v. UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE (filed Aug 7, 2017)
    Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Forest Service concerning commercial stewardship timber sales in the Tongass National Forest. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, PEER filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (filed Aug 7, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System for records concerning the authorization permitting the Brentwood School to use a route through the VAGLAHS campus for hauling debris in connection with a construction project at the school. 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
  6. Jones v. Federal Bureau of Investigation (filed Aug 7, 2017)
    Paul Jones, who had been employed as a practical nurse at the VA medical center in Cleveland, submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning himself while employed at the VA medical center in Cleveland. The FBI told Jones it had located 1,286 pages, of which 305 pages might be responsive. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, Jones filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  7. Bradley v. Koskinen (filed Aug 7, 2017)
    William Bradley, a defendant in a criminal case brought by the IRS, submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records concerning his taxes. The agency responded by indicating that it had no responsive records. Bradley then filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing – Compelling Need, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. WHITE COAT WASTE PROJECT v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed Aug 8, 2017)
    The White Coat Waste Project, an animal rights organization, submitted a FOIA request to the FDA for records concerning an approved funding application for a National Center for Toxicological Research project entitled “Aspects of Nicotine Self-Administration in a Nonhuman Primate.” The agency disclosed 64 pages and withheld four pages under Exemption 4 (confidential business information). White Coat Waste Project filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, White Coat Waste Project filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR (filed Aug 9, 2017)
    The Center for Biological Diversity submitted two FOIA requests to the Department of Interior. The first request was for communication records of Secretary Ryan Zinke. The second request was for Secretary Zinke’s schedules. The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a third FOIA request for records concerning presidential monument designations since 1996. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  10. SAUTER v. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Aug 9, 2017)
    Mark Sauter, a researcher on American POWs in Korea and Vietnam, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning POW Capt. Harry Cecil Moore. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Sauter filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (filed Aug 9, 2017)
    The Competitive Enterprise Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Treasury for a copy of a 2014 letter from the Bank of England and Financial Stability Board head Mark Carney to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew asking why Berkshire Hathaway’s reinsurance operation was not included on the Financial Stability Board’s provisional list of systemically important financial institutions. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, CEI filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. CAUSE OF ACTION INSTITUTE v. WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (filed Aug 9, 2017)
    Cause of Action Institute submitted a FOIA request to OMB for records concerning the processing of two petitions for rulemaking previously submitted by Cause of Action Institute. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but 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
  13. GUTIERREZ FLEIG v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Aug 9, 2017)
    Alberto Rodrigo Gutierrez Fleig submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning why the State Department denied his visa application because he was allegedly involved with drug trafficking. The State Department denied his request under Exemption 3 (other statutes). Gutierrez Fleig filed an administrative appeal of the denial, which was upheld by the agency. Gutierrez Fleig then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  14. LIOUNIS v. KREBS et al (filed Aug 9, 2017)
    Peter Liounis, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, DC, for records concerning the grand jury that indicted him. After the agency failed to respond, he filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  15. Reyes v. United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs et al (filed Aug 10, 2017)
    Researcher Emilio Reyes submitted two FOIA requests to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for records concerning the 1928 California Indian applications of several named individuals. The agency declined to disclose 20 responsive documents. Reyes filed an administrative appeal, but after the agency failed to respond further, Reyes filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  16. PROTECT DEMOCRACY PROJECT, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Aug 10, 2017)
    The Protect Democracy Project submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Justice, the Department of Treasury, and OMB for records concerning raising the debt ceiling. The Protect Democracy Project also requested a fee waiver. All three agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests. DOJ and Treasury granted the organization’s request for a fee waiver. Both agencies told the Protect Democracy Project that its requests were being put on the complex track. The Protect Democracy Project then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  17. Urban v. Adult Protective Services (filed Aug 10, 2017)
    Ralph Urban submitted a request to the City of New York Law Department under the New York Freedom of Information Law. The department told Urban it could find no records. Urban then filed suit under the federal FOIA. While Urban may have a claim under the New York FOIL, he does not have a claim under the federal FOIA.
    Issues: FOIA not mentioned
  18. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (filed Aug 11, 2017)
    American Oversight submitted two FOIA requests to the Department of the Treasury. The first request asked for ecords concerning communications with the House Financial Services Committee on proposed legislation or administrative actions. The other request asked for records concerning Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s comments that agency records provided to his committee should be considered congressional records, not agency records. American Oversight asked for expedited processing for the first request, which was granted by the agency. However, after hearing nothing further about either request, American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  19. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Aug 11, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning non-disclosure agreements signed by former FBI Director James Comey. 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
  20. WITTES v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Aug 11, 2017)
    Benjamin Wittes, editor of an online legal publication, submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for records concerning information about the country of origin of individuals convicted of terrorism-related offenses. Wittes submitted a second FOIA request to Justice for information supporting President Trump’s claim in his State of the Union address that the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism-related offenses came from outside the U.S. Wittes asked for a fee waiver for both requests. The Office of Information Policy consolidated the two requests and invoked unusual circumstances. Wittes submitted two FOIA requests to the National Security Division of DOJ for the same information. Wittes also submitted a FOIA request to OMB for information about Trump’s claim that the majority of those individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses came from outside the U.S. All the agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agencies, Wittes filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index

From → FOIA, PACER

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