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AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE and 24 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on February 8th, 2018

We have added 176 documents from 23 FOIA cases filed between January 28, 2018 and February 3, 2018. 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. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jan 31, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted four FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for records concerning the agency’s decision to share text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page with the media and records concerning the investigation of the incident by the Office of Inspector General. American Oversight also requested expedited processing. Some components of DOJ granted American Oversight’s request for expedited processing while others had not responded by the time American Oversight filed suit. After hearing nothing further from the agency, American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. Friends of Animals v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service (filed Jan 29, 2018)
    Friends of Animals submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for records concerning import permits for African elephant sport-hunted trophies from Zimbabwe and/or Zambia. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and placed it in its complex track for processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Friends of Animals filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. CODREA v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Jan 29, 2018)
    David Codrea, an Internet blogger on gun-rights issues, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Air Force for records concerning Devin Kelley, who Codrea believed had received a bad conduct discharge in 2014. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but, in conjunction with the FBI, denied Codrea’s request. Codrea filed an administrative appeal, which was denied by the Department of Justice. Codrea then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. James v. United States Department of Defense et al (filed Jan 30, 2018)
    Dayle James, the representative of Charlie James who had died as the result of an accident involving an Army “Stryker” vehicle, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Army for records concerning the transportation of the “Stryker” vehicle. The agency responded to James’ request. As a result of the records he received, James submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning the investigation of the accident that killed Charlie James. The agency told James he would have to commit to paying fees for the records. The agency then told James that his request was being transferred to U.S. Pacific Command office in Anchorage. After hearing nothing further from the agency, James filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. TOTAL DESIGN SERVICES, INC. v. Internal Revenue Service (filed Jan 30, 2018)
    Total Design Services filed suit against the IRS challenging a notice of levy from the agency. This is not a FOIA suit.
    Issues: FOIA not mentioned
  6. Western States Fire Protection Company v. General Services Administration (filed Jan 31, 2018)
    The Western States Fire Protection Company submitted a FOIA request to the General Services Administration for a copy of an identified contract between the agency and Primestar. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Western States Fire Protection Company filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jan 31, 2018)
    The Federation for American Immigration Reform submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for email communications to and from Sally Yates when she was serving as Deputy Attorney General and Acting Attorney General during January 2017. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and asked FAIR to narrow the scope of its request. It did so by identifying certain keywords concerning the travel ban. FAIR submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning any communications Yates had with the ACLU or the National Immigration Law Center. After hearing nothing further from the agency, FAIR filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  8. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Jan 31, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning communications with former director James Comey pertaining to his Senate testimony, his plans to write a book, and any prepublication requirements. 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
  9. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Jan 31, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning the PST file for Dennis Cheng, who served as Deputy Chief of Protocol from July 2009 to July 2011. 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
  10. COHEN MILSTEIN SELLERS & TOLL PLLC v. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION (filed Jan 31, 2018)
    The law firm of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll submitted a FOIA request to the Securities and Exchange Commission for records concerning the Alaska Assets produced to the SEC by Miller Energy and others. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and divided it into nine separate requests. The agency denied five of those requests on the basis of Exemption 7(A) (interference with ongoing investigation or proceeding). Four other requests were denied under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). Cohen Milstein filed administrative appeals of the denials. On appeal, the agency found that records produced before February 2011 could be disclosed, but the agency affirmed the denial as to records produced after February 2011. That decision relied solely on Exemption 7(A) as the basis of its denial on appeal. Cohen Milstein then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR (filed Jan 31, 2018)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted four FOIA requests to the Department of the Interior for Secretary Ryan Zinke’s communications records, Vincent DeVito’s communications records, Katherine MacGregor’s communications records, and David Bernhardt’s communications records. The agency acknowledged receipt of all four 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
  12. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (filed Jan 31, 2018)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted two FOIA requests to the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning communications records for John Rehs and Mike Nedd. 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
  13. State of Washington v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission et al (filed Jan 31, 2018)
    The Attorney General of Washington submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for communications from the chair of the commission to any other commissioners. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the State of Washington filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  14. Sierra Club v. US Environmental Protection Agency (filed Feb 1, 2018)
    The Sierra Club submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning the way in which the agency processes FOIA requests since the beginning of the Trump administration. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told the Sierra Club that its request was unlikely to incur any fees. But after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Sierra Club filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  15. HYATT v. UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE (filed Feb 1, 2018)
    Gilbert Hyatt submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for records concerning a decades-old dispute between the agency and himself pertaining to his ability to obtain patents. Hyatt wanted access to an email from patent examiner Hien Dieu Thi Khuu, but because he was unable to get the email through discovery, he made a FOIA request for it. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and denied the request on the basis that the Khuu email was not an agency record. Hyatt filed an administrative appeal of that decision and the agency upheld its denial. Hyatt then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  16. EQUITY FORWARD v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed Feb 1, 2018)
    Equity Forward submitted a FOIA request to the Administration for Children and Families for records concerning correspondence from a list of named individuals pertaining to a list of keywords. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Equity Forward filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  17. Seay v. United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") et al (filed Feb 1, 2018)
    Clant Seavy, an Internet videographer covering issues of animal cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Agriculture for records concerning violations of the Horse Protection Act. The agency denied Seavy’s request under Exemption 7(A) (interference with ongoing investigation or proceeding). Seavy filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Seavy filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  18. Barno v. Ficeto et al (filed Feb 2, 2018)
    Jonathan Barno filed suit against the Superior Court in Connecticut alleging a variety of constitutional torts, mentioning FOIA as well. This is not a FOIA suit.
    Issues: FOIA not mentioned
  19. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Feb 2, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning FISA applications pertaining to the Russian investigation. The FBI denied the request. Judicial Watch filed an administrative appeal, which was also denied. Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  20. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (filed Feb 2, 2018)
    Democracy Forward Foundation submitted two FOIA requests to the Department of Commerce for emails sent or received by Secretary Wilbur Ross and records concerning contracts pertaining to the census. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. Democracy Forward Foundation queried the agency several times concerning the status of their requests, but after hearing nothing further about the processing of their requests, Democracy Forward Foundation filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  21. CAMPAIGN FOR ACCOUNTABILITY v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed Feb 2, 2018)
    Campaign for Accountability submitted a FOIA request to the Administration for Children and Families for records concerning services for unaccompanied immigrant pregnant minors. CfA also requested expedited processing. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Campaign for Accountability filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  22. NOVAD MANAGEMENT CONSULTING v. HUD (filed Feb 2, 2018)
    NOVAD Management Consulting submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for records concerning a contract with DEVAL. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told NOVAD that it would not be able to respond within the statutory time limit. NOVAD Management Consulting then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  23. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR (filed Feb 2, 2018)
    Democracy Forward Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Interior for records concerning prepared remarks made by Secretary Ryan Zinke to the American Legislative Exchange Council. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Democracy Forward Foundation that it was being processed. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Democracy Forward Foundation filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index

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

From → FOIA, PACER

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