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The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) v. United States Department of Justice and 23 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on March 15th, 2018

We have added 171 documents from 22 FOIA cases filed between March 4, 2018 and March 10, 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. The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) v. United States Department of Justice (filed Mar 6, 2018)
    The Center for Investigative Reporting submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning its investigation into the 1965 ambush of two African-American law enforcement officers in Varnado, Louisiana. One officer died while the other survived. The FBI finally closed the investigation in 2016. The LSU School of Mass Communications Cold Case Project requested the file in 2016, which was disclosed in heavily redacted form. CIR requested the unredacted file. CIR also asked for a fee waiver and expedited processing. The FBI denied CIR’s request for expedited processing and placed it in the news media fee category. After hearing nothing further from the agency, CIR filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. PUBLIC CITIZEN, INC. v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (filed Mar 5, 2018)
    Public Citizen submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Defense for records concerning the use of military personnel and equipment in parades in New York City and Washington, DC. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Public Citizen that because of unusual circumstances the agency would not be able to respond within the statutory time limit. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Public Citizen filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. PROTECT DEMOCRACY PROJECT, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Mar 5, 2018)
    The Protect Democracy Project submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning contacts between DOJ and the White House pertaining to the Disney-21st Century Fox proposed merger. PDP also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The Office of Information Policy told PDP that due to unusual circumstances it could not process the request within the statutory time limit. The request also went to the Anti-Trust Division, which did not acknowledge the request. 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
  4. Fowlers v. Internal Revenue Service et al (filed Mar 5, 2018)
    Alexis Kevin Fowler filed suit against the IRS, claiming a cause of action under the Fair Debt Collection Act as well as FOIA and the Privacy Act. His claims are for invasion of privacy and contain no FOIA-related claim.
    Issues: FOIA not mentioned
  5. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (filed Mar 6, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted five FOIA requests to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for records pertaining to communications with Secretary Ben Carson’s family, outside interest groups, the White House, and the Trump family. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and told American Oversight that it could find no records concerning communications with Carson’s wife Candi. American Oversight filed an administrative appeal of that denial. The agency indicated that it was conducting another search for records responsive to that request. But after hearing nothing further from the agency on any of the requests, American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  6. FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed Mar 6, 2018)
    The Federation for American Immigration Reform submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning the hiring of Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Immigration Statistics, Marc Rosenblum. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but 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
  7. FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM v. UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (filed Mar 6, 2018)
    The Federation for American Immigration Reform submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for any teaching materials used since January 2014 by instructors for cultural orientation classes at Resettlement Support Centers. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but 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. Informed Consent Action Network v. National Institutes of Health et al (filed Mar 6, 2018)
    Informed Consent Action Network submitted a FOIA request to the National Institute of Health for recommendations made to improve the safety of childhood vaccines. NIH told the Network that 37 pages were being referred to the Health Resources and Services Administration for direct response, but that otherwise all responsive records were publicly available online. The Network filed an administrative appeal of NIH’s response. In response to the Network’s appeal, NIH again told the Network that all records except for 37 pages sent to HRSA were available online. The Informed Consent Action Network then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. Jackson v. Monfils et al (filed Mar 6, 2018)
    Christopher Jackson, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Milwaukee for records concerning the identity of an individual identified as a gang member and referred to as C. The agency failed to respond and Jackson filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  10. Protect Our Defenders et al v. Veterans Affairs (filed Mar 7, 2018)
    Protect Our Defenders and the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Veterans Affairs for records concerning the agency’s treatment of survivors of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requesst and provided records responsive to part of the requests. Protect Our Defenders attempted to check the status of its requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Protect Our Defenders and Connecticut Veterans Legal Center filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  11. CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON v. CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU (filed Mar 7, 2018)
    Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington submitted a FOIA request to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for records concerning communications between Acting Director Mick Mulvaney and World Acceptance Corporation, a payday lender, while he headed the CFPB as well as when he served in the House of Representatives. CREW also requested a fee waiver. CFPB acknowledged receipt of the request and told CREW that it had been placed in the news media fee category and its request for a fee waiver would be held in abeyance. After hearing nothing further from the agency, CREW filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. MIDDLE EAST FORUM v. UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (filed Mar 7, 2018)
    The Middle East Forum submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Agency for International Development for records concerning a grant given to World Vision, Inc. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told the Middle East Forum that because the records contained potentially confidential business information it was sending a pre-disclosure notification to World Vision. After hearing nothing further from the agency the Middle East Forum filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. Bravo et al v. U.S. Department of Justice (filed Mar 7, 2018)
    Dominique Bravo and American Oversight submitted a FOIA request to the FBI and the National Security Division of the Department of Justice for records concerning the FISA application submitted to the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court to obtain a warrant allowing for surveillance of Carter Page. Bravo and American Oversight also requested expedited processing. The FBI and NSD granted their request for expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from the agencies, Bravo and American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  14. The New York Times Company et al v. Department Of Justice (filed Mar 7, 2018)
    New York Times Reporter Charlie Savage submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning the application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to authorize surveillance on Carter Page. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Savage and the New York Times filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  15. Glancy Prongay and Murray LLP v. United States Department of Justice (filed Mar 8, 2018)
    The law firm of Glancy, Prongay & Murray submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the law firm filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  16. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE et al (filed Mar 8, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted FOIA requests to all cabinet-level departments, the EPA, and the Small Business Administration for records concerning calendar entries for political appointees. All the agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests and several agencies asked American Oversight for clarification. But after hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  17. ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed Mar 8, 2018)
    The Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted a FOIA request to the Privacy Office of the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning the agency’s use of drones, including reports required under a 2015 Presidential Memorandum. EPIC also requested expedited processing and 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: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Fee Category – Media or Educational, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  18. The New York Times Company et al v. United States Department Of Justice (filed Mar 8, 2018)
    New York Times Reporter Kenneth Vogel submitted four FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for records concerning whether individuals representing four Ukrainian organizations were properly registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Vogel also requested expedited processing. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. The agency denied Vogel’s request for expedited processing as it related to one of the requests. Vogel filed an administrative appeal of that denial. But after hearing nothing further from the agency, Vogel and the New York Times filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  19. United Network for Organ Sharing v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (filed Mar 8, 2018)
    The United Network for Organ Sharing submitted a FOIA request to the Health Resources and Services Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services for records concerning responses provided to a request for proposal pertaining to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. It located 50 pages, which it withheld under Exemption 4 (confidential business information) and Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). UNOS filed an administrative appeal of the decision. The agency acknowledged receipt of the appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, UNOS filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  20. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES et al (filed Mar 9, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted five FOIA requests to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for records concerning alleged conflicts of interest by CMS Administrator Seema Verma. 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
  21. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (filed Mar 9, 2018)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted four FOIA requests to the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning a range of topics. 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
  22. PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE (filed Mar 9, 2018)
    Property of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for records concerning the agency’s reversal of its ban on importation of African elephant trophies. 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, Fee Category – Media or Educational, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver

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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