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REYES v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION and 17 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on December 7th, 2017

We have added 128 documents from 16 FOIA cases filed between November 26, 2017 and December 2, 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. REYES v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION (filed Nov 27, 2017)
    Feliciana Reyes, a 90-year-old who had served as a guerilla in the Philippines in World War II, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Education for records concerning the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and denied Reyes’ request, citing Exemption 5 (privileges). Reyes filed an administrative appeal. The agency granted the appeal in part. Reyes then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. Zullo v. U.S. Department of Justice (filed Nov 27, 2017)
    Jeremy Zullo, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for records concerning alleged misconduct by the agency during several investigations. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Zullo filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  3. JONES v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Nov 27, 2017)
    Thomas Jones, who had participated in a number of protests at Cornell University in the 1960s that were investigated by the FBI, submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records about himself. Jones also requested expedited processing. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but denied Jones’ request for expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Jones filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. CAUSE OF ACTION INSTITUTE v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Nov 28, 2017)
    Cause of Action Institute submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning two agency reports into allegations that employees or contractors were using encrypted communications to discuss responding to Trump administration policies. Cause of Action Institute submitted a second FOIA request for records about the use of encrypted devices. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and told Cause of Action Institute that its first request would not incur fees. However, after hearing nothing further concerning either request, Cause of Action Institute filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. Kocaya v. Duke et al (filed Nov 28, 2017)
    David Kocaya, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records about his case. The agency acknowledged receipt of his request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Kocaya filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. PROTECT DEMOCRACY PROJECT, INC. v. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET et al (filed Nov 29, 2017)
    Protect Democracy Project submitted FOIA requests to OMB and the Department of Commerce concerning records about the plans for the upcoming 2020 census. Protect Democracy Project also requested a fee waiver. The Commerce Department acknowledged receipt of the request and granted PDP’s fee waiver request. OMB did not acknowledge the request. After hearing nothing further from either agency, Protect Democracy Project then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  7. CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, INC. v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Nov 29, 2017)
    The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning a directive issued by administrator Scott Pruitt to halt the Obama administration’s “sue and settle” policy. In response to CBD’s first FOIA request, the agency indicated that Pruitt’s directive was oral and that there were no responsive records. CBD filed an administrative appeal of the no records response. CBD also submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning the directive based on a more recent search. The agency acknowledged receipt of that request. However, after hearing nothing further concerning either request, CBD filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Segregability analysis
  8. Freedom of the Press Foundation et al v. Department of Justice et al (filed Nov 29, 2017)
    The Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Knight First Amendment Institute submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Justice, the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the Office of the National Director for Intelligence for records concerning limitations imposed by the First Amendment on law enforcement’s ability to obtain and use records taken from the media. The plaintiffs also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. All the agencies acknowledged receipt of the request and most of them denied the plaintiffs requests for expedited processing and a fee waiver. After hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, the media organizations filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  9. ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION v. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE et al (filed Nov 30, 2017)
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted FOIA requests to the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology for records concerning the creation and administration of the Tattoo Recognition Technology Program. EFF also requested expedited processing, news media status, and a fee waiver. NIST located 180 pages and released 144 pages, withholding records under a variety of exemptions. EFF filed an administrative appeal. EFF also submitted a second FOIA request to NIST for records on tattoo recognition technology sent to the Human Subjects Review Group and the Human Subjects Protection Office. NIST acknowledged receipt of the request, but after it failed to respond, EFF filed an administrative appeal. After hearing nothing further from the agency, EFF filed suit, including claims against the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for records that were referred to those agencies.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Fee Category – Media or Educational, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  10. HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE et al (filed Nov 30, 2017)
    The Humane Society submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Agriculture for records concerning funding of animal production facilities by the Farm Services Agency. The agency provided several partial responses, including a heavily redacted document containing 142 pages. The agency claimed its redactions were made under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and Exemption 3 (other statutes). The Humane Society filed an administrative appeal. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Humane Society filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT LEGAL INSTITUTE v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Nov 30, 2017)
    The Energy & Environmental Legal Institute submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning emails between two named individuals during a specific time frame that included any of a half-dozen specific keywords. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, EELI filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT LEGAL INSTITUTE v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed Nov 30, 2017)
    The Energy & Environmental Legal Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institute for Environmental Health Studies for records concerning emails between two named individuals during a specific time frame that included any of a half-dozen specific keywords. The agency failed to acknowledge receipt of the request. After hearing nothing further from the agency, EELI filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. CTD HOLDINGS, INC. v. NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (filed Nov 30, 2017)
    CTD Holdings, a biotechnology company, submitted two FOIA requests to the National Institute of Health. The first FOIA request, submitted in 2016, concerned records about Vtesse advisory committees. The agency indicated that it planned to disclose records on a rolling basis, but after more than a year had gone by, the agency had not provided any records. As a result, CTD Holdings submitted a second FOIA request in 2017, asking for the same records, but updated a year. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told CTD that it would consolidate the response to both requests. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, CTD Holdings filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  14. Bonner v. Department of Defense et al (filed Nov 30, 2017)
    Raymond Bonner, an investigative journalist, submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Defense, the CIA, and the FBI for records pertaining to Abu Zubaydah. The agencies acknowledged receipt of Bonner’s requests. The FBI initially told Bonner he would need to provide a privacy waiver from Abu Zubaydah before it would search for records, but later told Bonner it had searched its Central Records System and found no responsive records. Bonner filed an administrative appeal of that decision. After hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, Bonner filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  15. Castillo Alvarez et al v. United States Customs and Border Protection (filed Dec 1, 2017)
    Reyna Castillo Alvarez submitted FOIA requests to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records concerning her immigration status. The agency told Alvarez that it found no records. Alvarez filed an administrative appeal. The agency then released some records in response. Not satisfied with the agency’s responses, Alvarez filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  16. Price v. United States Department of Justice (filed Dec 1, 2017)
    James Price, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records he claimed the agency was required to collect under Title 42. The agency failed to respond and Price filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

In addition, we have added 6 documents from 2 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

From → FOIA, PACER

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