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GILLON v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al and 14 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on December 1st, 2017

We have added 84 documents from 14 FOIA cases filed between November 19, 2017 and November 25, 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. GILLON v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed Nov 22, 2017)
    Steven Gillon, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma who is writing a biography of John F. Kennedy, Jr., submitted FOIA requests to the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, and the Department of State for records concerning John F. Kennedy, Jr. All three agencies told Gillon that they found no responsive records. Gillon also made a FOIA request to the Secret Service for records pertaining to three deceased Secret Service agents who worked at the White House during the Kennedy administration. The agency acknowledged receipt of that request. Gillon filed an administrative appeal of the FBI’s no records decision. The Office of Information Policy told Gillon it had remanded his request to the FBI for further processing. The State Department told Gillon that it could not process the request because it was too vague. Gillon then filed suit against all three agencies.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed Nov 20, 2017)
    Property of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Army, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for records about Black Identity Extremists. Property of the People and Shapiro also requested expedited processing. DHS acknowledged receipt of the request, but did not respond to the request for expedited processing. The U.S. Army acknowledged receipt of the request and asked Property of the People and Shapiro to narrow the scope of their request, which they did. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence failed to acknowledge receipt of the request. After hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, Property of the People and Shapiro filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Fee Category – Media or Educational, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. FRIENDS OF THE EARTH v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (filed Nov 20, 2017)
    Friends of the Earth submitted FOIA requests to the Department of the Interior for records concerning the participation by Secretary Ryan Zinke and Associate Deputy Secretary James Cason in the review of national monuments. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Friends of the Earth filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (filed Nov 20, 2017)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted 13 FOIA requests to the regional offices of the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning Secretarial Order 3354, encouraging more leases for oil drilling on federal lands. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and asked WildEarth Guardians if its request could be consolidated into one response. WildEarth Guardians agreed to consolidate the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, WildEarth Guardians filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (filed Nov 20, 2017)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Interior for records concerning Secretarial Order 3354, encouraging more leases for oil drilling on federal lands. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told WildEarth Guardians on several occasions that it was still processing the request. WildEarth Guardians submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning coordination with the Energy Department pertaining to Secretarial Order 3354. The agency acknowledged receipt of that request as well, but after hearing nothing further as to either request, WildEarth Guardians filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON v. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (filed Nov 21, 2017)
    Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Interior for records concerning Secretary Ryan Zinke’s use of a non-commercial plane, and the amount of money budgeted for the Secretary’s travel for 2016-2018. CREW also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. It made an interim disclosure of a single page pertaining to Zinke’s travel on a commercial airliner. But after hearing nothing further from the agency, CREW filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed Nov 21, 2017)
    The Government Accountability Project submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning policies for border checks. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, GAP filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. Winston v. Air Force Review Board Agency (filed Nov 21, 2017)
    Nicole Winston, a former employee of the Air Force Review Board Agency, submitted FOIA requests to the agency for records about her medical or private grants. She received a no records response, but rather than appeal the no records response, she filed a discrimination suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Jurisdiction – Failure to Exhaust
  9. Winston v. U.S. Department of Justice et al (filed Nov 21, 2017)
    Nicole Winston submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning programs against her. The agency told Winston it was still processing part of her request. She filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Winston filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  10. Winston v. Office of Naval Research (filed Nov 21, 2017)
    Nicole Winston submitted a FOIA request to the Office of Naval Research for records concerning her medical or private grants. The agency did not respond to her request. Later, Winston filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  11. Nichols Kaster, PLLP et al v. U.S. Department of Labor (filed Nov 21, 2017)
    The law firms of Nichols Kaster, PLLP, and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC filed FOIA requests with the Department of Labor for records concerning home care service workers. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and contacted the law firms once to discuss the request. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, the two law firms filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. Carlson v. United States Postal Service (filed Nov 22, 2017)
    Douglas Carlson submitted 13 FOIA requests to the U.S. Postal Service for a variety of records about postal operations. The agency failed to respond to some and withheld records as to other requests. Dissatisfied with all the responses he had received, Carson, after filing administrative appeals for all the requests, filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  13. Brooks v. Federal Bureau Of Prisons (filed Nov 22, 2017)
    Jeffrey Brooks, the representative for the estate of David Brooks, who died while in prison, submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Prisons for records concerning David Brooks. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, Jeffrey Brooks filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  14. Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc. et al v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (filed Nov 22, 2017)
    Waterkeeper Alliance, the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and the Environmental Integrity Project submitted FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning the agency’s decision to reconsider its Effluent Limitations Guidelines rule. The organizations also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. The agency denied the requesters’ fee waiver request. The organizations filed an administrative appeal, and the agency granted their fee waiver request. The agency had other contacts with the organizations, but after hearing nothing more substantive about their requests, the organizations filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver

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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