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DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION et al v. WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF AMERICAN INNOVATION and 19 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on February 23rd, 2018

We have added 132 documents from 17 FOIA cases filed between February 11, 2018 and February 17, 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. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION et al v. WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF AMERICAN INNOVATION (filed Feb 15, 2018)
    The Democracy Forward Foundation and Food & Water Watch submitted FOIA requests to the White House Office of American Innovation for records concerning its operations and calendars for Jared Kushner, head of OAI, and others. The Office of American Innovation did not acknowledge or respond to the requests. Democracy Forward Foundation and Food & Water Watch then filed suit, arguing that the Office of American Innovation was an independent authority created within the White House and was subject to FOIA.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  2. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Feb 12, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted four FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for records concerning a variety of issues arising from a letter to the agency from House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but 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, Litigation – Vaughn index
  3. LAVERPOOL v. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (filed Feb 12, 2018)
    Keith Laverpool submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for records related to his Federal Housing Administration home mortgage because alleged fraud involving cancellation of his home insurance. The agency acknowledged receipt of his request but denied it under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). Laverpool then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. CITIZENS UNITED v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Feb 13, 2018)
    Citizens United submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for emails sent or received by former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a specified time period. Citizens United also requested inclusion in the news media category and expedited processing. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency denied Citizens United’s request for expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Citizens United filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  5. CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Feb 13, 2018)
    Campaign Legal Center submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records pertaining to President Trump’s allegations of voter fraud. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency disclosed some records, including an email chain describing the creation of what became the presidential advisory commission on voter integrity. However, the names of the authors and recipients of emails were redacted under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). CLC filed an administrative appeal, arguing that since the names had now become public through media accounts, they should now be disclosed. The Office of Information Policy denied CLC’s appeal, and CLC filed suit.
  6. CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY v. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE et al (filed Feb 13, 2018)
    The Center for Biological Diversity submitted FOIA requests to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the EPA for records concerning biological opinions pertaining to chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests and told the Center that they were being put in their complex track for processing. After the Center was told that both requests were still being processed, the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. Carter Hayes, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission (filed Feb 13, 2018)
    The law firm of Carter Hayes submitted a number of FOIA requests to the Federal Trade Commission for recent records concerning alcoholic beverages. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and told Carter Hayes that it would need to provide $2,500 in estimated fees. The agency subsequently assessed an additional $500 in fees. The agency ultimately processed 389 pages but disclosed only 60 pages. Carter Hayes filed an administrative appeal and asked the agency to explain its fee assessment. After the agency failed to respond to the law firm’s administrative appeal, Carter Hayes filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Fees – Advance Payment, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. REPORTERS COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION et al (filed Feb 14, 2018)
    The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press submitted a multi-part FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning the agency’s policies for impersonating members of the news media. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and broke the request down into separate requests. The FBI told the Reporters Committee that it was placing its requests on its complex track for processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Reporters Committee filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. Bonner v. Central Intelligence Agency (filed Feb 14, 2018)
    Raymond Bonner, an investigative journalist, submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for specific records pertaining to the investigation of Abu Zubaydah. Bonner also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and asked Bonner to provide a time-frame for his request. Bonner did no, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Bonner filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  10. Rivera v. United States (filed Feb 15, 2018)
    Anthony Rivera, a former employee of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, submitted four FOIA requests to the National Nuclear Security Administration for records concerning a variety of subjects pertaining to the labortatory. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Rivera filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  11. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Feb 15, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning communications to or from Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request but 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
  12. Ana Muniz v. United States Department of Homeland Security (filed Feb 16, 2018)
    Ana Muniz, a professor of Criminology at the University of California, Irvine, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning the ICEGangs database. The agency acknowledged her request. She made several attempts to check on the status of her request, but after the agency failed to provide any substantive response, Muniz filed suit.
    Issues: attorney’s fees, failure to respond
  13. Reyes v. United States Department of the Interior et al (filed Feb 16, 2018)
    Emilio Reyes, a researcher, submitted two FOIA requests to the Department of the Interior for records concerning named individuals who were descendants of either the San Pasqual or Gabrielino Indians. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Reyes filed an administrative appeal. After hearing nothing further from the agency on the requests or his appeals, Reyes filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  14. Emilio Reyes v. United States Department of the Interior et al (filed Feb 16, 2018)
    Emilio Reyes, a researcher, submitted five FOIA requests to the Department of the Interior for records concerning named individuals who were descendants of the San Pasqual, Gabrielino, or Cahuilla Indians. The agency disclosed records, but withheld records under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). It also charged Reyes $300 in duplication fees for 2,100 pages. Reyes filed administrative appeals for all his requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Reyes filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  15. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Feb 16, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted three FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning communications to and from administrator Scott Pruitt and several other staff members with outside parties and congressional staff. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests but told American Oversight that they did not sufficiently describe records to allow for a search. American Oversight filed administrative appeals of those denials. It also indicated that the agency had denied other organizations’ FOIA requests for communications because they were too broad. American Oversight filed suit, alleging that the EPA had a pattern and practice policy of denying requests for communications from officials because they did not sufficiently describe the records sought.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  16. WATKINS LAW & ADVOCACY, PLLC v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE (filed Feb 16, 2018)
    Watkins Law & Advocacy submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Postal Service for records concerning the receipt of a registered letter sent from the U.S. to the Philippines pertaining to a one-time payment to a Filipino veteran of World War II. The agency provided information from its website. Watkins Law & Advocacy filed an administrative appeal. The agency upheld its original decision and Watkins Law & Advocacy filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  17. Minkovski et al v. US Department of Treasury (filed Feb 16, 2018)
    Alyona Minkovski and Matthew Stoller, both independent journalists, submitted FOIA requests to the Department of the Treasury for records concerning Sheryl Sandberg when she served as Chief of Staff to former Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and granted Minkovski and Stoller news media fee status. But after hearing nothing further from the agency, Minkovski and Stoller filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

In addition, we have added 5 documents from 3 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

  1. WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers (filed Feb 7, 2018)
  2. American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security et al (filed Feb 7, 2018)
  3. KANAYA v. ALCOHOL TOBACCO & FIREARMS ATF (filed May 26, 2017)

From → FOIA, PACER

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