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DocuFreedom Inc. v. United States Department of Justice et al and 16 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on January 4th, 2018

We have added 112 documents from 13 FOIA cases filed between December 10, 2017 and December 16, 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. DocuFreedom Inc. v. United States Department of Justice et al (filed Dec 13, 2017)
    DocuFreedom, Inc. submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for the records concerning entries in the library catalog at the Justice Management Division. The library catalogue is publicly available as a 6,562-page PDF file, but DocuFreedom alleged that many of the entries themselves were not publicly available. After hearing nothing from the agency, DocuFreedom filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. The University of Washington et al v. Department of Defense et al (filed Dec 11, 2017)
    The Center for Human Rights at the University of Washington submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Defense, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and U.S. Southern Command for records concerning the 1981 alleged massacre in El Mozote, El Salvador, including records pertaining to various named individuals. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agencies, the Center for Human Rights at the University of Washington filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. ALLEN v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR (filed Dec 12, 2017)
    Matthew Allen, an employee at the Department of the Interior, submitted a FOIA request to the agency for records concerning himself and the reason for his demotion. The agency told Allen that his request needed to be processed through a number of different offices and that the cost of processing his request might cost $800. Allen agreed to pay the fees and the agency placed his request on its complex track. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Allen filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. Protect Our Defenders et al v. Defense et al (filed Dec 13, 2017)
    Protect Our Defenders and the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning the military’s treatment of survivors of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. The military services responded to the requests and Defenders filed administrative appeals challenging the adequacy of the search. Defenders also sent FOIA requests to other components of the military justice system. After the agencies failed to respond substantive, Defenders filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  5. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (filed Dec 13, 2017)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted five FOIA requests to the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning proposed actions pertaining to coal mining operations. The agency acknowledged receipt of 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
  6. CONSERVATION LANDS FOUNDATION v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR et al (filed Dec 13, 2017)
    Conservation Lands Foundation submitted FOIA requests to the Department of the Interior, the Council on Environmental Quality, and OMB for records concerning the Bear Ears Interim Report and the review ordered by President Trump’s executive order on the protection of federal lands. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Conservation Lands Foundation filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  7. BLOOMGARDEN v. NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION (filed Dec 14, 2017)
    Howard Bloomgarden, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request the National Archives and Records Administration for records concerning a 1986 letter pertaining to the termination of Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Granger. The agency identified three documents responsive to the request, but denied access under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). Bloomgarden filed an administrative appeal. NARA upheld its original decision on appeal. Bloomgarden then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. VOTEVETS ACTION FUND v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE et al (filed Dec 14, 2017)
    VoteVets Action Fund submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army for records concerning the events that led up to the deaths of U.S. special forces personnel in Niger and Yemen. Both the Defense Department and the Army acknowledged receipt of the requests. The Defense Department indicated that the request involved unusual circumstances and would take some time to process. After hearing nothing further from the agencies, VoteVets Action Fund filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  9. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (filed Dec 14, 2017)
    The Democracy Forward Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Office of Management and Budget for records concerning the members of the Regulatory Reform Task Force created under President Trump’s executive order encouraging deregulation. The Democracy Forward Foundation also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from agency, DFF filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  10. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Dec 14, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning FBI Supervisor Peter Strzok’s assignment to the special counsel’s investigation and his subsequent reassignment. 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
  11. ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER v. IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (filed Dec 15, 2017)
    The Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning the FALCON and Investigative Case Management systems developed for the agency by Palantir Technologies. EPIC also requested 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, Litigation – Vaughn index, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  12. AVILA et al v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Dec 15, 2017)
    Victor Avila and Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning Avila. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Avila and Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  13. Sheppard v. United States Department of Justice (filed Dec 15, 2017)
    Bryan Sheppard submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning allegations reported in the Kansas City Star that the agency had engaged in misconduct during an investigation of a 1988 arson fire that killed several Kansas City firefighters. The agency located 450 records, withholding some of them under Exemption 5 (privileges) and Exemption 7 (law enforcement records). Sheppard filed an administrative appeal to the Office of Information and Policy, which upheld the agency’s decision. Sheppard then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index

In addition, we have added 31 documents from 4 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

  1. BARTELHO v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS (filed Dec 8, 2017)
  2. EDMOND v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE (filed Dec 7, 2017)
  3. Edokobi v. U.S. Department of Justice et al (filed Dec 7, 2017)
  4. Charles v. United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons (filed Dec 7, 2017)

From → FOIA, PACER

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