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ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE and 24 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on April 26th, 2018

We have added 176 documents from 21 FOIA cases filed between April 15, 2018 and April 21, 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. ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (filed Apr 17, 2018)
    The Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records concerning accepted offers-in-compromise relating to any past or present tax liability for President Trump. EPIC noted that offers-in-compromise fell within an exception to the rule protecting tax return information. EPIC also requested expedited processing and news media fee status. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and granted EPIC’s request for expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency told EPIC it would need to take an extension of time to respond. EPIC did not agree to the extension and finally filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. Wilderness Workshop v. United States Department of Agriculture et al (filed Apr 16, 2018)
    The Wilderness Workshop submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Forest Service for records concerning a proposed road through a wilderness habitat that would negatively affect one of Colorado’s migrating deer herds. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency provided three interim responses, none of which fully responded to the Wilderness Workshop’s request. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Wilderness Workshop filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS, INC. et al v. PERDUE et al (filed Apr 16, 2018)
    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and several other animal rights organizations requested that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service post enforcement reports under the Animal Welfare Act in its electronic public reading room under the affirmative disclosure provision of FOIA. PETA and the other plaintiffs argued that requiring individual FOIA requests for enforcement reports was inefficient and increased the agency’s workload.
    Issues: Affirmative disclosure
  4. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (filed Apr 16, 2018)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning a natural gas project in Sublette County, Wyoming. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency placed unreadable GPS data on its website and told WildEarth Guardians that the request was still being processed. After hearing nothing further from the agency, WildEarth Guardians filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. The Century Foundation v. United States Department of Education (filed Apr 16, 2018)
    The Century Foundation submitted two FOIA requests to the Department of Education for records concerning the announcement by Dream Center Foundation that it intended to purchase institutions of higher education owned by the Education Management Corporation. The agency acknowledged receipt of both requests, but the Century Foundation heard nothing further before filing suit. The Century Foundation submitted a third FOIA request to the Department of Education for records concerning the change of ownership of Kaplan University. The agency acknowledged of the request and provided an interim response. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency concerning any of the three requests, the Century Foundation filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. Farmworker Justice et al v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (filed Apr 17, 2018)
    Earthjustice submitted a FOIA request to the EPA on behalf of Farmworker Justice for records concerning a November 2017 meeting of EPA’s Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee and any communications and meetings with state departments of agriculture and members of the agriculture and pesticide industries. Eathjustice requested a fee waiver. The agency told Earthjustice that its request would not incur fees. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Farmworker Justice and Earthjustice filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  7. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Apr 17, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted three FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning waivers or approvals of first-class air travel by administrator Scott Pruitt and two other EPA officials. American Oversight submitted a fourth FOIA request for records concerning the procurement of a vehicle to transport Pruitt. The agency acknowledged receipt of all four 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
  8. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Apr 17, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning communications between the agency and former director James Comey pertaining to the publication of his upcoming book, including any requirement for prepublication review. 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 JUSTICE (filed Apr 17, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning appointment calendars maintained for former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. 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. Farmers Deli Grocery v. United States of America, Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (filed Apr 17, 2018)
    Farmers Deli Grocery submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Agriculture for records concerning SNAP EBT transactions at Farmer Deli Grocery. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency responded to the request by redacting some records under Exemption 5 (privileges). Farmers Deli Grocery filed an administrative appeal. The agency responded to the appeal by telling Farmers Deli Grocery that it was withholding identifying information under Exemption 3 (other statutes), Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). Farmers Deli Grocery then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. The Century Foundation v. United States Department of Education (filed Apr 17, 2018)
    The Century Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Education for records concerning a December 2017 announcement by the agency of a new policy for compensating students for misrepresentations by institutions of higher education. The Century Foundation also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and granted the Foundation’s request for a fee waiver. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Century Foundation filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. TOSH, et al. v. UNITED STATES CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES, et al. (filed Apr 18, 2018)
    Ernest Tosh and David Marks, two attorneys in Texas, submitted FOIA requests to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for de-identified records concerning Minimum Data Set assessments that must be filed with CMS by nursing homes. The agency told Tosh that he would have to pay $9,000 in fees to search and produce the records. Tosh paid the fee estimate. Marks was also told that he would be required to pay fees. Both Tosh and Marks filed an administrative appeal of the agency’s failure to respond. After hearing nothing further from the agency. Tosh and Marks filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  13. Sierra Club v. United States Environmental Protection Agency (filed Apr 19, 2018)
    The Sierra Club submitted four FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning communications involving administrator Scott Pruitt, and a number of political appointees pertaining to a variety of topics. The Sierra Club also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. The agency told the Sierra Club that an electronic search had located 5,557 potentially responsive records but that it had not been able to review the records yet. After hearing nothing further from the agency on their four requests, the Sierra Club filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  14. ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY PROJECT v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Apr 19, 2018)
    The Environmental Integrity Project submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning EPA photographer Eric Vance, including photographs uploaded to the agency’s intranet site. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. EIP contacted the agency several times to check the status of the request and learned only that the request had been assigned to a different processor. After hearing nothing more from the agency, EIP filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  15. National Consumer Law Center v. United States Department of Education (filed Apr 19, 2018)
    The National Consumer Center submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Education for records concerning the lawsuit, California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools v. DeVos. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency disclosed 121 pages with redactions under Exemption 5 (privileges) and Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). NCC filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, NCC filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  16. FIRST LOOK MEDIA WORKS, INC. v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Apr 20, 2018)
    First Look Media submitted six FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning travel expenses of administrator Scott Pruitt and other officials. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, First Look Media filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  17. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Apr 20, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning communications between former director James Comey and the Special Counsel’s Office about the production of materials to the Special Counsel’s Office. The FBI acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency issued a Glomar response neither confirming nor denying the existence of records, citing Exemption 7(A) (interference with ongoing investigation or proceeding). Judicial Watch filed an administrative appeal, which was denied. Judicial Watch then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  18. KOWAL v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Apr 20, 2018)
    Barbara Kowal, a paralegal in the Office of the Federal Defender for the Middle District of Florida, submitted a FOIA request to DEA for records concerning the conviction of Daniel Troya, who received the death sentence for two charges and was now being represented by the Federal Defender’s Office on appeal. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The DEA denied access to records concerning Troya’s co-defendants, charged Kowal $400 in fees for other records, and disclosed some records. Kowal filed an administrative appeal, which was denied. Kowal then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  19. ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER v. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION (filed Apr 20, 2018)
    The Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Trade Commission for records concerning Facebook’s biennial assessments as required by a previous consent order. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told EPIC that unusual circumstances would prevent the agency from responding within the statutory time limit. The agency also told EPIC that records responsive to some parts of its request had been posted on the FTC website. However, those records, released in response to a previous FOIA request, were heavily redacted under Exemption 3 (other statutes) and Exemption 4 (confidential business information). After hearing nothing further from the agency, EPIC filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  20. Osen LLC v. Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury (filed Apr 20, 2018)
    Osen LLC, a law firm representing U.S. service members and their families who had been killed or injured in Afghanistan, submitted a FOIA request to the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Department of the Treasury for unclassified records concerning OFAC’s designation of James Alexander McLintock and Al-Rahmah Welfare Organization as subject to sanction. OFAC acknowledged receipt of the request. OFAC told Osen that there were some unclassified materials but most of the records were classified and the agency would need to review them for segregability. After OFAC told Osen there were still 69 cases ahead of theirs, Osen filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  21. Johnson v. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (filed Apr 20, 2018)
    Sandra Johnson submitted a FOIA request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for records concerning the investigation of a complaint at the Richmond Beach Rehab facility. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Johnson that it would need additional time to respond. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Johnson filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

In addition, we have added 9 documents from 4 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

  1. WILLIS v. DOJ (filed Apr 13, 2018)
  2. Bey, ex rel Jerry W. Robinson v. Wilkie et al (filed Apr 11, 2018)
  3. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (filed Apr 10, 2018)
  4. BRYAN v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICE OF INFORMATION POLICY et al (filed Apr 9, 2018)

From → FOIA, PACER

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