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Dec 2 16

NADOLNY et al v. UNITED STATES CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION and 6 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 25 documents from 7 FOIA cases filed between November 20, 2016 and November 26, 2016. 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. NADOLNY et al v. UNITED STATES CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION (filed Nov 21, 2016)
    Tricia Nadolny, a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, submitted ten FOIA requests to the Consumer Product Safety Commission for records concerning the safety hazards posed by IKEA dressers that were prone to tip over. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Nadolny filed suit. read more…
Dec 2 16

FOIA Activity: 4 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 4 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between November 20, 2016 and November 26, 2016. These are associated with 4 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAN 4:2016cv05052Friends of the River v. United States Army Corps of Engineers et al
    • November 22, 2016: ORDER by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granting in part [12] Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Transferring for Improper Venue.Clerk of court shall transfer this case to the District of Columbia. (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/22/2016)
  2. read more…

Dec 1 16

The News Media List: Our Latest Initiative

by FOIA Project Staff

Just how active is the news media in taking federal agencies to court when they don’t promptly turn over the records being sought? Hard data to reliably answer this question has been extremely limited. FOIAproject.org today announces an ambitious initiative aimed at filling this void.

Past Speculation

Fifty years ago news organizations and various associations were central backers for the passage of the original Freedom of Information Act. Nevertheless, the news media has been soundly criticized for so rarely invoking it to challenge improper withholding in the federal courts. The media’s focus on immediacy, now heightened with the 24 hour news cycle, is often cited to explain why pursuing often lengthy litigation has had little appeal. Then too, the growing financial pressures that the industry has been experiencing have made marshaling resources needed to mount such suits more difficult. But some critics also believe that the media as a whole has simply become less willing to haul federal bureaucrats to court.

While hard evidence is spotty, past studies have suggested that fewer FOIA lawsuits have been filed by the media and greater reliance is now being placed on disclosures from other sources, including less objective advocacy groups who have become increasingly active FOIA players. See, for example, FOIA Project’s March 2013 report. Pointing to the emergence of new sources and organizational forms to deliver news, others have argued that use of FOIA by the press may be actually increasing because of the emergence of these so-called “new” media outlets. See FOIA Project’s December 2014 report.

Launching “The News Media List”

Trying to get more definitive answers about actual media trends, the FOIA Project for more than a year has been systematically gathering detailed information to document each lawsuit filed by reporters and news organizations. Starting with the case-by case records on virtually every FOIA suit now available on FOIAproject.org, the project team examined and classified each of the nearly nine thousand individual names of plaintiffs for cases filed in federal district court since the beginning of FY 2001 to identify those that were media related.

The result is what we have dubbed “The News Media List”. This never-before available interactive tool not only identifies each media organization and reporter, but also provides direct access to a variety of details about every case. For more recent cases, a useful synopsis is given, along with descriptors of the specific issues involved. Click on a “case detail” link to pull up the court docket, the actual complaint and court opinions (where available), and an up-to-date listing of the events and proceedings that have taken place.

To see who the most active FOIA media filers are, using this interactive tool you can sort by media name, or by time period and media category. Look for forthcoming focused follow-up reports, including one covering what these initial data reveal about media lawsuits during the Obama versus Bush administrations.

Please Help Us Improve This List

This list contains the names of 369 reporters and news organizations we have been able to identify so far. Reporters identified include those working for all types of news media organizations, freelance journalists and others serving as “new media” sources reporting on news events. For some suits, both a news organization and a reporter at that organization were named plaintiffs in the federal court action. Other suits were brought individually by reporters. On at least one occasion, more than one news organization joined in filing the lawsuit.

Our work continues examining the individual complaints to double check whether we have missed or misclassified anyone. We are publishing this initial list now to encourage others to contribute to this effort. Please email us at trac@syr.edu with the names of anyone we missed, and let us know if we have made any errors.

If you were the plaintiff or attorney in any of these cases, we would especially encourage you to contribute commentary about the case, or additional court documents recording details of the case that you would be willing to share.

We aim to keep this list regularly updated as new cases are filed by reporters and media organizations. We also hope to extend this initiative to systematically track other categories of FOIA requesters such as scholars, commercial requesters, advocacy organizations, and more. Please help make this possible through your donation. The TRAC Gift Fund has been set up through the Newhouse School at Syracuse University to support this effort.

Nov 30 16

Update to FOIA Backlogs and Processing Times data tool

by FOIA Project Staff

We have updated the Agency FOIA Backlogs and Processing Times data tool.

Data has been updated for these agencies:

Nov 28 16

MADHIRAJU et al v. DEPARTMENT OF STATE and 13 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 73 documents from 12 FOIA cases filed between November 13, 2016 and November 19, 2016. 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. MADHIRAJU et al v. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Nov 17, 2016)
    Praveen Madhiraju, an attorney representing three American citizens who had been victims of war crimes in 1999, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning communications between the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and Goran Radosavljevic, a prime suspect in the Bytyqi case. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Madhiraju filed suit read more…
Nov 28 16

FOIA Activity: 4 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 4 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between November 20, 2016 and November 26, 2016. These are associated with 4 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAN 4:2016cv05052Friends of the River v. United States Army Corps of Engineers et al
    • November 22, 2016: ORDER by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granting in part [12] Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Transferring for Improper Venue.Clerk of court shall transfer this case to the District of Columbia. (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/22/2016)
  2. read more…

Nov 16 16

DAILY CALLER NEWS FOUNDATION et al v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE and 6 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 54 documents from 6 FOIA cases filed between November 6, 2016 and November 12, 2016. 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. DAILY CALLER NEWS FOUNDATION et al v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (filed Nov 10, 2016)
    The Daily Caller News Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records concerning the Clinton Foundation. The IRS administratively closed the request because the tax returns for a non-profit organization were publicly available without a FOIA request and because other information might be protected by Exemption 3 (other statutes) read more…
Nov 16 16

FOIA Activity: 4 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 4 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between November 6, 2016 and November 12, 2016. These are associated with 4 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAC 2:2015cv05811Jorge Alejandro Rojas v. Federal Aviation Administration
    • November 10, 2016: JUDGMENT by Judge Consuelo B. Marshal: Consistent with the Courts Order filed simultaneously herewith, judgment is hereby entered in favor of Defendant Federal Aviation Administration. (MD JS-6, Case Terminated). (shb)
  2. read more…

Nov 10 16

LEOPOLD et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE and 11 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 92 documents from 11 FOIA cases filed between October 30, 2016 and November 5, 2016. 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. LEOPOLD et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Nov 1, 2016)
    Journalist Jason Leopold and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted FOIA requests to the FBI for records concerning investigations of Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Foundation. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Leopold and Shapiro filed suit read more…
Nov 10 16

FOIA Activity: 5 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 5 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between October 30, 2016 and November 5, 2016. These are associated with 5 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAN 3:2015cv03060Muchnick v. Department of Homeland Security
  2. read more…