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MCKINNEY v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS and 19 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on March 1st, 2018

We have added 119 documents from 19 FOIA cases filed between February 18, 2018 and February 24, 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. MCKINNEY v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (filed Feb 19, 2018)
    Hugh McKinney, a disabled veteran, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Veterans Affairs for records concerning a review of the program for traumatic injury protections benefits. The agency disclosed 27 documents, none of which McKinney considered responsive. He filed an administrative appeal of the decision. The agency remanded his request for further processing, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, McKinney filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. Peterson v. Scoggins (filed Feb 20, 2018)
    Aleakeem Petersen, a state prisoner, requested information about his conviction from Melba Scroggins, Clerk of the Superior Court for Benton County, Georgia. This is not a FOIA claim.
    Issues: FOIA not mentioned
  3. AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW & JUSTICE v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION et al (filed Feb 19, 2018)
    American Center for Law and Justice submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning its investigation of Hillary Clinton and its decision not to pursue criminal charges. ACLJ also requested expedited processing. The FBI granted its request for expedited processing and told ACLJ that records responsive to its request were available online at The Vault, the agency’s online reading room. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, ACLJ filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE v. DEPARTMENT OF STATE et al (filed Feb 19, 2018)
    American Center for Law and Justice submitted FOIA requests to the Department of State, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Treasury for records concerning approval by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States of the sale of a controlling stake in Uranium One to Rosatom, a Russian corporation. ACLJ also requested expedited processing. The State Department denied ACLJ’s request for expedited processing, while the Justice Department granted its request for expedited processing. All four agencies acknowledged receipt of ACLJ’s requests, but after hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, ACLJ filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  5. Lopez v. Director of Disclosure (filed Feb 20, 2018)
    Elba Lopez submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records concerning the agency’s tax assessment of him. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Lopez filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  6. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed Feb 20, 2018)
    Democracy Forward Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning the agency relationship with private prison corporations. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told DFF that it had been referred to a number of different components for processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, DFF filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  7. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Feb 20, 2018)
    Democracy Forward Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning the Trump administration’s relationship with private prison corporations. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and referred it to various components. The Office of Information Policy told DFF that it had no responsive records. The Bureau of Prisons provided an initial response containing 17 pages. After hearing nothing further from the agency, DFF filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  8. CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON v. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (filed Feb 20, 2018)
    Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington submitted a FOIA request to the General Services Administration for records concerning the July 2017 decision to cancel construction of a new FBI headquarters building. CREW also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told CREW that processing the request would not incur fees. In February 2018, GSA announced it would instead rebuild the FBI’s current headquarters in Washington. After hearing nothing further from the agency, CREW filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. PROTECT DEMOCRACY PROJECT, INC. v. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET et al (filed Feb 20, 2018)
    Protect Democracy Project submitted two FOIA requests to OMB for records concerning the possible appointment of Thomas Brunell as deputy director of the Census Bureau. PDP also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and denied PDP’s request for expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, PDP filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  10. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY (filed Feb 20, 2018)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted two FOIA requests to the Department of the Interior. WildEarth Guardians’ first request concerned records related to a press release regarding the sale of federal oil and lease parcels for September 2017. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told WildEarth Guardians that it would take a 10-day extension to respond to the request. WildEarth Guardians submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning a presentation that Kate MacGregor, Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management was scheduled to give at Grand Junction, Colorado before the Grand Junction Petroleum and Mining Club. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told WildEarth Guardians that it would take a 10-day extension to respond to that request as well. WildEarth Guardians contacted the agency to check the status of both requests, but after hearing nothing more substantive from the agency, WildEarth Guardians filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. Madel v. United States Department of Justice et al (filed Feb 20, 2018)
    Christopher Madel submitted FOIA requests to the DEA for records concerning the distribution of oxycodone in Georgia. The agency told Madel that it had sent predisclosure notification letters to some distributors in Georgia. It also disclosed an Excel spreadsheet that Madel claimed could not be accessed without a password. Madel filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Madel filed suit.
    Issues: Choice of format, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. U.S. RIGHT TO KNOW v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed Feb 21, 2018)
    U.S. Right to Know submitted six FOIA requests to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for records concerning communications between a designated CDC official and two categories of non-U.S. government officials. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, U.S. Right to Know filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. WITTES v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Feb 21, 2018)
    Benjamin Wittes, the editor of Lawfare, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning an article about Mar-a-Lago that was published on the website ShareAmerica, operated by the State Department’s Bureau of International Programs and was linked to several other social media accounts run by the agency. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Wittes filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  14. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (filed Feb 22, 2018)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted four FOIA requests to the Department of the Interior for records concerning for records concerning four secretarial orders issued by Secretary Ryan Zinke. WildEarth Guardians sent the agency a letter concerning the status 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
  15. NORDLICHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Feb 22, 2018)
    Mark Nordicht submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the FBI’s New York field office for records concerning communications between ten named individuals and any member of the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, or Reuters during 2016. The agency denied the request because Nordicht had not provided third-party authorizations. Nordicht filed an administrative appeal and the agency agreed to search for communications pertaining to one individual. Nordicht filed a second appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Nordicht filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  16. Ware v. Internal Revenue Service (filed Feb 23, 2018)
    Nancy Ware submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records concerning her taxes for 2000-2004. The IRS provided an interim response containing 556 pages. The IRS provided another 237 pages in completing its response, withholding some records. Ware filed an administrative appeal, but the agency had failed to respond by the time she filed suit. Ware alleged that she made the FOIA request to help her find out what happened to her 2016 Abatement Request, but indicated that none of the records she received pertained to the Abatement Request. Ware then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  17. Clark et al vs IRS (filed Feb 23, 2018)
    Ray and Judith Clark submitted FOIA requests to the IRS for records concerning their taxes and those of two companies they owned. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and provided a partial response of 2,083 pages, 166 pages of which were withheld in full and 75 pages in part. The Clarks filed an administrative appeal. The agency responded to their appeal but did not provide any more documents. The Clarks then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  18. RCT Motivating, Inc. (filed Feb 23, 2018)
    RCT Motivating, Inc. submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records concerning the agency’s examination of its taxes from 2008-2010. The agency located 244 pages of responsive records, withholding 32 pages in full and 12 pages in part. RCT Motivating filed an administrative appeal. The agency upheld its original denial. RCT Motivating then filed a second FOIA request for updated records concerning its first request. This time, the IRS identified 1835 responsive pages and withheld 431 pages in full and 86 pages in part. RCT Motivating filed an administrative appeal of that decision. The agency affirmed its denial. RCT Motivating then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  19. Motivating Graphics LLC (filed Feb 23, 2018)
    Motivating Graphics submitted FOIA requests to the IRS for records concerning the agency’s examination of the company’s taxes from 2006-2009. The agency identified 5,718 pages of responsive records and partially responded to the request, withholding 321 pages in full and 125 pages in part. Motivating Graphics filed an administrative appeal, which was denied by the agency. Motivating Graphics submitted a second FOIA request to the IRS for records pertaining to its 2010 taxes. The agency identified 3,828 pages of responsive records, withholding 362 pages in full and 320 pages in part. Motivating Graphics filed an administrative appeal of that decision, which was denied by the agency as well. Motivating Graphics then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index

In addition, we have added 1 document from 1 case, with an earlier filing date, that has recently appeared on PACER.

From → FOIA, PACER

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