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Behar v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security and 13 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on November 2nd, 2017

We have added 82 documents from 13 FOIA cases filed between October 22, 2017 and October 28, 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. Behar v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (filed Oct 23, 2017)
    Richard Behar, a reporter, submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Secret Service for records cataloging visitors to candidate Donald Trump, his family, and campaign officials during the election and prior to his inauguration. Behar also requested expedited processing. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Behar filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. FIX THE COURT v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Oct 23, 2017)
    Fix the Court submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Marshals Service for records concerning trips outside Washington when USMS personnel accompanied Supreme Court justices. The agency asked Fix the Court to clarify its request, which it did. USMS then told Fix the Court that there would be a charge of $240 to cover the processing of the request. Fix the Court sent a check to the agency, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Fix the Court filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. WESTERN VALUES PROJECT v. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (filed Oct 23, 2017)
    Western Values Project submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Interior for digital correspondence to or from a list of organizations and individuals sent to or from a list of agency officials. Western Values Project also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Western Values Project filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  4. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (filed Oct 24, 2017)
    American Oversight submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Labor for records concerning meetings and discussions of the Overtime Rule. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. American Oversight submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning meetings and discussions of the Fiduciary Rule. The agency acknowledged receipt of that request as well. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency on either request, American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, attorney’, Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  5. PROTECT DEMOCRACY PROJECT, INC. v. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed Oct 24, 2017)
    The Protect Democracy Project submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning the agency’s involvement and interactions with unaffiliated border enforcement groups. The Protect Democracy Project also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told the Protect Democracy that it would need to know the email extensions for various groups in order to search for email correspondence. The Protect Democracy Project told the agency it had no ability to provide such information. The Protect Democracy Project also made a number of FOIA requests to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records about the agency’s involvement with unaffiliated border enforcement groups in various regions. The agency acknowledged receipt of those requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency as to any of its requests, the Protect Democracy Project filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  6. ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Oct 26, 2017)
    The Environmental Defense Fund submitted three FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning ethical matters involving administrator Scott Pruitt. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and told EDF that an additional portion of Pruitt’s appointment calendar had been disclosed to another requester and sought clarification as to how that might affect EDF’s request. Despite a number of attempts to contact the agency to determine that status of its requests, the EDF heard nothing further from the agency. EDF then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (filed Oct 26, 2017)
    Wildlife Guardians submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Interior for records concerning two Secretarial Orders, one on a federal coal moratorium and the other on American energy independence. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further, Wildlife Guardians filed an administrative appeal. After again hearing nothing further from the agency, Wildlife Guardians filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT (filed Oct 26, 2017)
    Wildlife Guardians submitted a FOIA request to the Office of Surface Mining for records related to the March 22, 2017 Notice of Intent to Initiate Public Scoping and Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the San Juan Mine Deep Lease Extension Mining Plan Modification. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Wildlife Guardians that its request would be put in the complex queue. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Wildlife Guardians filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. PROTECT DEMOCRACY PROJECT, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Oct 26, 2017)
    The Protect Democracy Project submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy, Office of Legal Counsel, and the National Security Division for records concerning advice provided to the White House related to the president’s legal authority to launch military strikes or conduct armed conflict against North Korea. The Protect Democracy Project also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The Office of Information Policy denied the Project’s request for expedited processing. OLC granted the Project’s request for expedited processing. The National Security Division denied the Project’s request for expedited processing and a fee waiver. The Protect Democracy Project also submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Defense for records related to advice to the White House on the president’s legal authority to launch military strikes or conduct armed conflict against North Korea. The Protect Democracy Project also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. DOD denied the request for expedited processing and told the Protect Democracy Project that its request was being placed on the complex track. The Protect Democracy Project also submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for the same type of records. The Protect Democracy Project also asked for expedited processing and a fee waiver. The State Department granted its requests for expedited processing and a fee waiver. However, after hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, the Protect Democracy Project filed suit against all three agencies.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  10. Mille Lacs, County of v. United States Department of Justice et al (filed Oct 26, 2017)
    The County of Mille Lacs submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior for records concerning agreements between the agencies and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe regarding concurrent federal criminal jurisdiction under the Tribal Law Enforcement Act. Both agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from either agency, the County of Mille Lacs filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. Panjiva, Inc. et al v. United States Customs and Border Protection et al (filed Oct 26, 2017)
    Panjiva, Inc., a company working to make global trade more efficient and transparent, submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for aircraft manifests for inbound shipments from January – July 2014, which are required to be made public under 19 U.S.C. Section 1431(c). The agency denied the request because Panjiva had not provided third party authorization to receive the records. Panjiva filed an administrative appeal, which was denied. Panjiva then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. Council on American-Islamic Relations-CA et al v. Federal Emergency Management Agency et al (filed Oct 27, 2017)
    The Council on American Islamic Relations and three other organizations submitted FOIA requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice for records concerning the Countering Violent Extremism program. The plaintiffs also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the request, but after none of them responded, the Council on American Islamic Relations and the other three organizations filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. MACVEST GROUP INC. v. UNITED STATES et al (filed Oct 27, 2017)
    The Macvest Group submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records concerning the agency’s decision to examine its 2014 tax return. The agency denied the request. Macvest Group then submitted a second FOIA request to the IRS for records about itself. The agency refused to process the request, apparently because it considered the second request duplicative of the first request. Macvest Group then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

In addition, we have added 1 document from 1 case, with an earlier filing date, that has recently appeared on PACER.

From → FOIA, PACER

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