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DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE and 17 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on March 29th, 2018

We have added 134 documents from 18 FOIA cases filed between March 18, 2018 and March 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. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Mar 20, 2018)
    Democracy Forward Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning its interpretation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in National Labor Relations Board v. SW General (2017). The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and referred it to the Office of Legal Counsel, which told DFF that it would be unable to respond within the statutory time limit. 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
  2. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES (filed Mar 20, 2018)
    Democracy Forward Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for records concerning communications between the CMS Director of the Strategic Marketing Group and a number of outside consulting firms. DFF also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but 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
  3. FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM ("FAIR") v. U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (filed Mar 20, 2018)
    The Federation for American Immigration Reform submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning the agency’s success in thwarting attempts to evade workplace enforcement. 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
  4. LAWYERS' COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW et al v. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (filed Mar 21, 2018)
    The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the National Women’s Law Center submitted FOIA requests to OMB for records concerning the agency’s decision to evoke its approval of the revised EEO-1 form. The two organizations also requested fee waivers. OMB acknowledged receipt of their requests and indicated that some records had been compiled in response to their requests. However, after hearing nothing further about the requests, the Lawyers Committee and NWLC filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  5. HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES v. ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE et al (filed Mar 21, 2018)
    The Humane Society of the United States submitted a FOIA request to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for records concerning inspection reports for the Natural Bridge Zoo in Natural Bridge, Virginia. HSUS submitted a second FOIA request for inspection reports for four other family-operated facilities. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. The agency provided 19 pages in response to the first FOIA request, with redactions under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). HSUS filed administrative appeals for both requests. The agency upheld its initial decisions and told HSUS that it now considered family-operated facilities to have a heightened privacy interest in personal information. HSUS then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. OCEANA, INC. v. NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION et al (filed Mar 21, 2018)
    Oceania, Inc. submitted three FOIA requests to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service for records concerning the dusky shark bycatch and told the agencies that it would accept aggregate data if necessary to avoid confidentiality concerns. Oceania also requested a fee waiver. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests and granted Oceania’s request for a fee waiver. NMFS released a single document containing a table of the number of sharks reported by fisheries, but after the agencies failed to provide any further response, Oceania filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. Pendell v. United States Secret Service et al (filed Mar 21, 2018)
    Perry Pendell, a New York state prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Secret Service for records about himself. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after it failed to respond, Pendell filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  8. Center for Biological Diversity v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service (filed Mar 21, 2018)
    The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s West Virginia Field Office for records concerning protection of Big Sandy crayfish. The Center also submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning the Berwind mine. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Center filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  9. Cervantes Anguiano v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (filed Mar 22, 2018)
    Ariel Anguiano submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning his removal proceedings. The agency acknowledged his request, but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services responded to his request instead by providing his alien file. USCIS also referred 87 pages to ICE for its direct response. ICE disclosed 45 pages. Anguiano then filed an administrative appeal. ICE remanded Anguiano’s request for a further search. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Anguiano filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  10. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY v. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR (filed Mar 22, 2018)
    Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Interior for records concerning a SF-299 application submitted to Grand Teton National Park for permission to build cell towers in the park and the agency’s announcement of a policy to grant permission for building cell towers in national parks. PEER also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and granted PEER’s request for a fee waiver. The agency told PEER that it had located documents but had not yet reviewed them. After hearing nothing further from the agency, PEER filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM v. USDA FOREST SERVICE (filed Mar 22, 2018)
    The Federation for American Immigration Reform submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Forest Service for records concerning Forest Service-owned land that had been closed to the public since 2015. 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
  12. SURGEY v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Mar 22, 2018)
    Nicholas Surgey, an investigative reporter, submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel to and attendance at the 2018 Rose Bowl game. Surgey also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Surgey that responding would not incur any fees. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Surgey filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS et al (filed Mar 22, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Veterans Affairs and 16 other agencies for the names and titles of employees in Presidential-appointed positions. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests. The Department of Homeland Security asked American Oversight for clarification, which it provided. However, 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
  14. Kertchen v. Federal Bureau of Investigation (filed Mar 22, 2018)
    Vitaliy Kertchen, an attorney, submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records about the National Instant Criminal Background Check System’s state terminology and restoration of rights pages. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and denied the request under Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques). Kertchen filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Kertchen filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  15. MISSOURI COALITION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT v. U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS (filed Mar 23, 2018)
    The Missouri Coalition for the Environment submitted five FOIA requests to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for records concerning pending permit applications in the St. Louis and Little Rock area. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and responded to all of them, withholding some documents under Exemption 5 (privileges). MCE then filed suit, alleging the agency had a policy or practice of withholding such records even though they had been disclosed as the result of prior litigation.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  16. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE et al (filed Mar 23, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted FOIA requests to the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development for records concerning funding for the Open Society Foundation-Romania. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from either agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  17. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Mar 23, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning funding for the Open Society Foundation’s operations in Colombia or other South American organizations that might receive funding through the Open Society Foundation for their work in Colombia. 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
  18. BERNICKER v. NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY (filed Mar 23, 2018)
    Brendan Bernicker submitted a FOIA request to the National Security Agency for records concerning himself. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and subsequently told Bernicker that it would take some time to respond. Bernicker then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit

From → FOIA, PACER

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