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Vietnam Veterans of America et al v. Defense and 18 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on October 12th, 2017

We have added 109 documents from 19 FOIA cases filed between October 1, 2017 and October 7, 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. Vietnam Veterans of America et al v. Defense (filed Oct 3, 2017)
    Vietnam Veterans of America, Connecticut State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America, and Anthony Maloni submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Defense for records concerning the 1966 clean-up of a nuclear accident near Palomares, Spain caused by a mid-air collision between a B-52 and KC-135 tanker aircraft, which resulted in the disclosure of clouds of radioactive plutonium dust. Maloni and other airmen suffered serious health consequences as a result of their participation in the clean-up. After the agency failed to respond to any of requests, Vietnam Veterans of America, Connecticut State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America, and Maloni filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  2. TODD v. USA (filed Oct 2, 2017)
    Frazier Todd, a federal prisoner, requested records about his case from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Part of his request referenced a transportation order for the U.S. Marshals Service. Todd ultimately filed suit against the United States. While he does not have a cause of action against the District Court, he may have a FOIA claim against the Marshals Service.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  3. The New York Times Company et al v. Department of Transportation (filed Oct 2, 2017)
    Reporter Benjamin Protess of the New York Times submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Transportation for records concerning two high-speed railroad proposals. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. Protess later contacted the agency to inquire about its status and the agency told him it was being processed. 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
  4. Brennan Center For Justice At New York University School Of Law v. United States Department of State (filed Oct 2, 2017)
    The Brennan Center for Justice submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning 23 categories of records pertaining to the travel ban. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and granted the Brennan Center’s requests for expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency also said it would notify the Brennan Center once records were located. The Brennan Center then filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  5. JONES et al v. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (filed Oct 3, 2017)
    Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC); Trish Brow, the widow of Lt. Col. John Brow, and Michael and John Brow, their adult children; Connie Gruber, widow of Maj. Brooks Gruber; and the James Madison Project submitted FOIA requests to the Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy, and the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Defense for records concerning the 2000 crash of an MV-22 Osprey aircraft at a regional airport in Mariana, Arizona. The crash killed 19 Marines, including Brow and Gruber. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing more substantive from any of the agencies, Jones, Brow, Gruber, and the James Madison Project filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY v. NATIONAL OCEANIC & ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, et al (filed Oct 3, 2017)
    The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a FOIA request to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for records concerning the decision to disband the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. 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
  7. COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Oct 3, 2017)
    The Competitive Enterprise Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning email correspondence involving two State Department employees containing various keywords pertaining to climate change. CEI also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, granted CEI’s request for a fee waiver, but denied its request for expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, CEI filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  8. Milbrand v. U.S. Department of Labor et al (filed Oct 3, 2017)
    Jon Milbrand, a roofing contractor, submitted a FOIA request to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for records concerning the role of 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(10) in reducing fatalities from working on low slope roofs. OSHA withheld 817 pages of records under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and Exemption 2 (internal practices and procedures). Milbrand filed an administrative appeal, which was denied. He then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed Oct 4, 2017)
    The Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election. EPIC also requested expedited processing and inclusion in the news media fee category. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, EPIC filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  10. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University v. Department of Homeland Security et al (filed Oct 4, 2017)
    The Knight First Amendment Institute submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of Justice for records concerning new vetting policies. The Knight First Amendment Institute also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the request and several of them granted the Knight First Amendment Institute’s request for expedited processing. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement denied the Knight First Amendment Institute’s request for expedited processing. The Knight First Amendment Institute filed an administrative appeal of that denial and as a result, the agency disclosed 1,666 pages, but redacted all but 13 pages in their entirety. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Knight First Amendment Institute filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  11. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People et al v. U.S. Department of Commerce (filed Oct 5, 2017)
    The NAACP, the NAACP Connecticut State Conference and NAACP Boston submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Commerce for records concerning the Bureau of Census’s plan for the 2020 census. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the NAACP filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  12. WESTERN VALUES PROJECT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (filed Oct 5, 2017)
    The Western Values Project submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Interior for records concerning Lolita Zinke’s work for the agency since March 2017. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. Western Values Project submitted a second FOIA request for records referenced in its first request that were sent or received by six named individuals. The agency acknowledged Western Values Project’s second FOIA request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Western Values Project filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE (filed Oct 5, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Office of the National Director of Intelligence for records concerning the intelligence assessment required by Section 502 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. 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
  14. COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Oct 5, 2017)
    The Competitive Enterprise Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning a pseudonymous email address used by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. 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
  15. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY et al (filed Oct 5, 2017)
    American Oversight submitted FOIA requests to the Department of the Treasury and OMB for records concerning communications and contacts between officials at the two agencies and Congress. American Oversight submitted a second FOIA request to the two agencies for records concerning contact between agency officials and a list of conservative organizations. American Oversight also requested expedited processing. Both Treasury and OMB acknowledged receipt of the requests. Treasury denied American Oversight’s request for expedited processing. American Oversight filed an administrative appeal, which was acknowledged by the agency. After hearing nothing further from either agency, American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  16. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Oct 5, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Office of Information Policy for records concerning funding of Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. 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
  17. MUSLIM ADVOCATES et al v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE et al (filed Oct 5, 2017)
    Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Southern Poverty Law Center submitted FOIA requests to the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records concerning the waiver provision of the revised travel ban. All three agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests. The State Department granted the requesters’ request for a fee waiver, but denied their request for expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  18. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Oct 6, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning communications between former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and either Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or Clinton campaign aide Amanda Renteria pertaining to Clinton’s use of 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
  19. Whitaker et al v. Department of Commerce (filed Oct 6, 2017)
    Stephen Whitaker and David Gram submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Commerce for comments about the use of FirstNet, an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration created to construct a nationwide interoperable broadband communications network for first responders. The agency claimed that FirstNet was exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act, which meant it was also exempt from FOIA. The agency did not provide any appeals rights. Whitaker and Gram then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

From → FOIA, PACER

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