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FOIA Activity: 157 new FOIA court documents

by Harry Hammitt on January 9th, 2018

We have added 157 documents from 21 FOIA cases filed between December 17, 2017 and December 23, 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. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence v. U.S. Department of Justice (filed Dec 18, 2017)
    The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence submitted three FOIA requests to the Department of Justice concerning the influence of the NRA pertaining to various judicial nominations. The Giffords Center also requested expedited processing. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and indicated they were being processed by the Judicial Management Division, but after hearing nothing further, the Giffords Center filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  2. Nelson v. United States Corporation et al (filed Dec 18, 2017)
    Moses Nelson submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records pertaining to its Ogden, Utah office. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and asked for a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Nelson filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  3. Friends of Etna Turpentine Camp, Inc. v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service et al (filed Dec 18, 2017)
    The Friends of Etna Turpentine Camp submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for records concerning the Suncoast Parkway, the Camp, and the effect the parkway would have on species, including any biological opinions pertaining the permit applied for the Florida Department of Transportation. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency eventually told the Camp that its request was still pending in the complex queue. Friends of Etna Turpentine Camp then filed suit. This complaint is identical to 3:17-cv-011409-MMH-PDB.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. Friends of Etna Turpentine Camp, Inc. v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service et al (filed Dec 18, 2017)
    The Friends of Etna Turpentine Camp submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for records concerning the Suncoast Parkway, the Camp, and the effect the parkway would have on species, including any biological opinions pertaining to the permit applied for by the Florida Department of Transportation. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency eventually told the Camp that its request was still pending in the complex queue. Friends of Etna Turpentine Camp then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. The New York Times Co. et al v. United States Department of the Interior (filed Dec 18, 2017)
    New York Times reporter Julie Turkewitz submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Interior for records concerning communications Secretary Ryan Zinke had regarding national monuments. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and asked Turkewitz to narrow the scope of her request. She did so, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Turkewitz and the New York Times filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. The Center for Investigative Reporting et al (CIR) v. Department of Homeland Security (filed Dec 19, 2017)
    The Center for Investigative Reporting submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records concerning its policies on expedited removal. The agency asked CIR to narrow the scope of its request, which it did. CIR also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, CIR filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. Omotosho v. United States Corporation et al (filed Dec 19, 2017)
    Joel Omotosho submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records pertaining to its Ogden, Utah office. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Omotosho filed suit. This complaint is essentially identical to that in 3:17-cv-02101-JAM, filed by Moses Nelson in the same court.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  8. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE et al (filed Dec 19, 2017)
    American Oversight submitted three FOIA requests to the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force for records concerning contacts with the military pertaining to President Trump’s ban on transgenders in the military. American Oversight also requested expedited processing. The Defense Department denied American Oversight’s request for expedited processing, and several components indicated that they had found no records. American Oversight filed administrative appeals as to all adverse decisions. After hearing nothing further from the agencies, American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. INDIAN LAW RESOURCE CENTER v. OFFICE OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY-INDIAN AFFAIRS et al (filed Dec 19, 2017)
    The Indian Law Resource Center submitted a FOIA request in 2013 to the Department of the Interior for records concerning the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe’s leadership dispute. The Indian Law Resource Center also requested a fee waiver. The Office of the Solicitor granted the Resource Center’s request for a fee waiver. The Office of the Solicitor also provided some records in three installments. However, the Resource Center was dissatisfied with that response and filed an administrative appeal. After the agency failed to provide any more records, the Indian Law Resource Center filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  10. Thaw v. Department of Health and Human Services et al (filed Dec 19, 2017)
    Stanley Thaw submitted a FOIA request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for records concerning whether three companies he owned were registered in the State of Texas. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Thaw filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  11. Veterans Appellate Law Group, LLC v. United States of America et al (filed Dec 19, 2017)
    The Veterans Appellate Law Group submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of two veterans for their claims files. After the agency failed to respond, the Law Group filed administrative appeals. The agency indicated that at least one request would be remanded for processing. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Veterans Appellate Law Group filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. Conley v. United States Department of Homeland Security (filed Dec 20, 2017)
    William Conley submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning an incident that occurred at the Denver airport. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and Conley was told that the FOIA analyst had located responsive records. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, Conley filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. CAUSE OF ACTION INSTITUTE v. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (filed Dec 20, 2017)
    Cause of Action Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Treasury for records concerning the existence of a fund to pay settlements in cases of misconduct by members of Congress. Cause of Action Institute also requested expedited processing. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and later told COA that its request had been sent to the Bureau of Fiscal Services for processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Cause of Action Institute filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  14. Pinnicchia v. United States Department of Veterans Affairs (filed Dec 21, 2017)
    John Pinnicchia submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Veterans Affairs concerning a VA police report pertaining to an investigation in which Pinnicchia was accused of employment-related improprieties, but was exonerated. The agency disclosed the report, but redacted everything but Pinnicchia’s name. Pinnicchia filed an administrative appeal. The agency upheld the denial of the records. Pinnicchia then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  15. NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC. v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Dec 21, 2017)
    The Natural Resources Defense Council submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning any awareness review conducted as part of the agency’s processing of NRDC’s FOIA requests. NRDC also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told NRDC that it was being placed in the complex queue for processing. The agency also invited NRDC to contact the agency to discuss the dimensions of the request. NRDC contacted the agency and clarified the time frame of its request. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, NRDC filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  16. PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Dec 21, 2017)
    Property of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning its new Gravestone cyber and electronic surveillance system. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Property of the People and Shapiro filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  17. PEI v. UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (filed Dec 21, 2017)
    Jidong Pei, a citizen of China currently residing in New Jersey, submitted a FOIA request through his attorney to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for files on himself. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Pei filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  18. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (filed Dec 21, 2017)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning a Sept. 21, 2017 conference that was referred to in a Washington Post article. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and put the request in its complex queue. WildEarth Guardians submitted a second FOIA request to the Bureau for records concerning a proposal to limit to five the number of FOIA requests a requester could file with the BLM in a single day. The agency acknowledged receipt of that request and also put it in its complex queue for processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency as to either of its requests, WildEarth Guardians filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  19. BLIXSETH v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Dec 21, 2017)
    Tim Blixseth submitted two FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for emails sent or received by Lanny Breuer. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and assigned them to its complex queue for processing. Blixseth queried the agency on several occasions to check on the status of his requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Blixseth filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  20. American Civil Liberties Union et al v. Department of Defense et al (filed Dec 21, 2017)
    The American Civil Liberties Union submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the Department of State for records concerning the Trump administration’s rules governing the use of lethal force abroad, known as “Principles, Standards, and Procedures.” The ACLU also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the request and some indicated that the request would be put on their complex track for processing. However, after hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, the ACLU filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  21. NEVADANS FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (filed Dec 22, 2017)
    Nevadans for Background Checks submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning communications between the FBI and the General Services Administration pertaining to conducting background checks pursuant to Nevada’s recently passed background check initiative. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Nevadans for Background Checks filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index

From → FOIA, PACER

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