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DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION and 30 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on May 10th, 2018

We have added 185 documents from 26 FOIA cases filed between April 29, 2018 and May 5, 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. U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (filed May 2, 2018)
    Democracy Forward Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the General Services Administration for records concerning emails to or from the domain name “ptt.gov” to a number of individuals in and outside the Trump administration. DFF also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency told DFF that it found no responsive records. DFF filed an administrative appeal. In response to DFF’s appeal, GSA admitted that it had “ptt.gov” records but claimed that presidential transit records were not agency records subject to FOIA. DFF then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Agency Record – Control, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  2. Isaacs v. United States Department of Justice (filed May 4, 2018)
    Jeffrey Isaacs, a graduate of Dartmouth Medical School who believed he had been retaliated against by the NIH, submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning why it did not investigate his charges. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but Issacs was dissatisfied with the response and filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER v. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (filed Apr 30, 2018)
    The Campaign Legal Center submitted a FOIA request to the General Services Administration for Senior Federal Travel Reports. CLC also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency denied CLC’s request on the basis that the travel information was in the custody and control of the individual agencies and not GSA. CLC filed an administrative appeal, which was denied. CLC then filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. Fink v. United States Customs and Border Protection (filed Apr 30, 2018)
    Neil Fink submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records concerning why he was determined to be not eligible for the agency’s Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Fink filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed May 1, 2018)
    Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning communications between Administrator Scott Pruitt and the agency’s ethics officer. CREW also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told CREW that its request would not incur fees. Although the agency had identified an individual as the ethics officer, a memo exonerating Pruitt of charges stemming from renting an apartment from a lobbyist contained the name of another individual as the ethics officer. After hearing nothing further from the agency, CREW filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (filed May 1, 2018)
    WildEarth Guardians submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Land Management for records of all oil and gas pipeline right-of-ways granted by BLM’s Montana-Dakotas State Office. WildEarth Guardians also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency denied WildEarth Guardian’s request for a fee waiver and closed its request because it claimed the information was available on the agency’s website. WildEarth Guardians filed an administrative appeal. The agency acknowledged receipt of the appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, WildEarth Guardians filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  7. PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 1, 2018)
    Property of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning 40 named websites, publications, and organizations associated with the alt-right. The FBI separated the request in a number of individual requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Property of the People filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  8. Council on American-Islamic Relations -Chicago v. United States Citizenship & Immigration Services et al (filed May 1, 2018)
    The Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for records concerning individuals who had applied for naturalization, change of status, and asylum by using form N-400, I-589, and I-485 since April 2008. CAIR submitted an altered request and asked for expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency granted CAIR’s request for a fee waiver, but denied its request for expedited processing. CAIR filed an administrative appeal of the denial of expedited processing. DHS upheld USCIS’s decision not to grant expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency as to when its request would be completed, CAIR filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF MAINE FOUNDATION v. US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed May 1, 2018)
    The ACLU of Maine submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning U.S. Customs and Border Protection security checkpoints in Maine and related cooperation with local and state law enforcement. The ACLU of Maine also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the ACLU of Maine filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  10. Sierra Club v. United States Environmental Protection Agency (filed May 2, 2018)
    The Sierra Club submitted two FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning the participation of Susan Bodine and Michael Dourson in agency policymaking after they were nominated for senior positions at the agency but before they were confirmed. The Sierra Club also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests and granted the Sierra Club’s request for a fee waiver for its request about Susan Bodine. The agency told the Sierra Club that fees would not be incurred for its request for records about Dourson. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Sierra Club filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  11. NATIONAL LAW CENTER ON HOMELESSNESS & POVERTY v. U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION et al (filed May 2, 2018)
    The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty submitted nine FOIA requests to the General Services Administration for records concerning the agency’s efforts to identify properties that were available and suitable for the homeless. The agency disclosed 16 records. NLCHP filed an administrative appeal. GSA denied the appeal. NLCHP then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  12. PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed May 2, 2018)
    Property of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense for records concerning presidential security expenses. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agencies, Property of the People and Shapiro filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  13. PUBLIC CITIZEN, INC. v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION (filed May 3, 2018)
    Public Citizen submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Education for records concerning an October 2017 event at which agency officials met with representatives of regulated industries to discuss the agency regulatory agenda and its plans for deregulation. Public Citizen also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency told Public Citizen that its Office of Planning, Evaluation & Policy Development had no records. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Public Citizen filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  14. PUBLIC CITIZEN, INC. v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed May 3, 2018)
    Public Citizen submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for records concerning employment contracts submitted to the agency to support H-1B, EB-3, and H-1C work visa applications and the agency’s policy for conducting such reviews. Public Citizen also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Public Citizen filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  15. EQUITY FORWARD v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed May 3, 2018)
    Equity Forward submitted seven FOIA requests to the Department of Health and Human Services for records concerning various policies of the Office of Civil Rights. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after the agency failed to respond to their requests, Equity Forward filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  16. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 3, 2018)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning FISA hearing transcripts requested by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pertaining to warrant applications for Carter Page and Michael Flynn. 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
  17. DOMINGUEZ UGALDE v. UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (filed May 3, 2018)
    Jonathan Dominguez Ugalde, a presumed permanent resident, submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for records concerning the agency’s decision not to issue him a new permanent resident card. The agency acknowledged receipt of his request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Dominguez Ugalde filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  18. PUBLIC RECORD MEDIA, LLC, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 3, 2018)
    Public Record Media submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning current policies for obtaining information from the media. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and referred it to various component offices. Public Record Media also requested a fee waiver. The National Security Division denied its request for a fee waiver. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Public Record Media filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  19. MABIE v. UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICE et al (filed May 3, 2018)
    William Mabie, a prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Marshals Service for records concerning his conviction. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Mabie filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  20. State of Washington v. Environmental Protection Agency et al (filed May 3, 2018)
    The State of Washington submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning communications from agency employees to any past or present members of EPA advisory committee members related to a memo from Administrator Scott Pruitt entitled “Strengthening and Improving Membership on EPA Federal Advisory Committees.” The State also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and granted the State’s request for a fee waiver. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, the State of Washington filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  21. Estate of Joseph Arleo et al v. Internal Revenue Service (filed May 4, 2018)
    The Estate of Joseph Arleo submitted three FOIA requests to the IRS for records concerning the agency’s examination of Joseph Arleo and his estate. In response to the first FOIA request, the agency withheld 390 pages in full and 189 pages in part. The Estate filed an administrative appeal and the agency upheld its original decision. In response to the second FOIA request, the agency withheld 110 pages in full and 27 pages in part, but because the Estate had not yet received any documents it did not file an administrative appeal. The agency did not respond to the third request. The Estate then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  22. EQUITY FORWARD v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed May 4, 2018)
    Equity Forward, an organization advocating on behalf reproductive health rights, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Health and Human Services for records concerning correspondence between three identified HHS employees and any employees or representatives of specific persons or entities. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Equity Forward filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  23. PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 4, 2018)
    Property of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted FOIA requests to the FBI for records concerning classification 190 files, which among other things can refer to the processing of FOIA requests. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Property of the People filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  24. PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed May 4, 2018)
    Property of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Army, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for records referring to “Antifa” and affiliated groups. The Army asked Property of the People to narrow the scope of its request, but then told Property of the People that it had found no records. Property of the People filed an administrative appeal of the Army’s no records decision. The Army acknowledged receipt of the appeal. The FBI also told Property of the People that it had found no records pertaining to certain organizations. Property of the People filed an administrative appeal of that decision. The agency acknowledged receipt of the appeal. After hearing nothing further from the agencies, Power of the People filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  25. HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER v. BUREAU OF PRISONS (filed May 4, 2018)
    The Human Rights Defense Center submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Prisons for records concerning TRUFONE, TRULINCS, money transfers, and debit cards. The agency disclosed 101 pages of records and referred 125 pages to the Department of the Treasury and 12 pages to the Justice Management Division. The Human Rights Defense Center filed an administrative appeal of the BOP’s decision only. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Human Rights Defense Center filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  26. Mora-Villalpando v. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al (filed May 4, 2018)
    Maria Mora-Villalpando, an immigration rights activist, submitted FOIA requests to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records concerning enforcement actions taken against her or other similar immigration activists. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from either agency, Mora-Villalpando filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index

In addition, we have added 7 documents from 5 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

  1. Carter-v-United States Department of Justice (filed Apr 25, 2018)
  2. JOHNSON v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS (filed Apr 25, 2018)
  3. CASE NUMBER NOT USED (filed Apr 24, 2018)
  4. LINDER v. EOUSA (filed Apr 23, 2018)
  5. Piccolo v. Department of Homeland Security (filed Apr 18, 2018)

From → FOIA, PACER

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