Skip to content

Case Detail

[Subscribe to updates]
Case TitleMULTI AG MEDIA LLC v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2005cv01908
Date Filed2005-09-28
Date Closed2006-08-10
JudgeJudge Henry H. Kennedy
PlaintiffMULTI AG MEDIA LLC
DefendantU.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Farm Service Agency
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Opinion/Order [27]
FOIA Project Annotation: In an opinion that shows how finely-split the analysis of privacy and public interest can be under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), Judge Henry Kennedy has ruled that some data elements about livestock farmers may be disclosed while others may not. In a suit brought by Multi Ag Media for access to several databases maintained by the Farm Services Agency, Kennedy agreed with Multi Ag that a data field indicating the kind of livestock kept at a farm should be disclosed because it would help the public better understand decisions on federal farm subsidies. Analyzing the data contained in the Livestock Compensation Program, which contains information on livestock owners who suffered feed and pasture losses due to drought, Kennedy agreed that the description of livestock implicated financial privacy interests. Kennedy then found that the Agriculture Department had failed to understand the public interest in disclosure. He indicated that "Multi Ag also wants to know why such decisions were made. Disclosure of the withheld data would support the goal of knowing whether USDA is distributing taxpayer money appropriately. . .Disclosing the withheld information will shed light on how the government weighs the variables it collects to come up with a subsidy and whether its determination of those subsidies is reasonable." He observed that "while close, the court believes that this public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interests in the withheld information. Failing to recognize the public benefit of the information withheld, USDA fails to sustain its burden of proving otherwise." Turning to a compliance file, which contained information about the size of various farms, Kennedy concluded that the privacy interest in the information outweighed the public interest in disclosure because the information was not used in subsidy decisions. He rejected the argument that Agriculture had released acreage data in other files and could not do so here by noting that the other files included payment and subsidy information. Rejecting the claim that Agriculture had released the same information in previous years that it now was withholding, he observed that "the privacy interest protected by Exemption 6 belongs to the individual, not to the agency" and added that "the fact that USDA once concluded that disclosure would not constitute a 'clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy' does not preclude it from subsequently concluding to the contrary." He also rejected the claim that the information was useful for analyzing economic policies pertaining to farms and pointed out that the only cognizable public interest was the extent to which the information shed light on government activities. He then affirmed withholding a GIS database that showed individual properties. He explained that "absent any suggestion that it would be in the public interest to double-check USDA's use of the GIS database to administer its programs, the court sees no public interest in releasing the boundary lines and satellite images of all farms and tracts in the country."
Issues: Exemption 6 - Invasion of privacy
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2005-09-281COMPLAINT against U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (Filing fee $ 250) filed by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Attachment)(lc, ) (Entered: 09/29/2005)
2005-09-282LCvR 7.1 - CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC (lc, ) (Entered: 09/29/2005)
2005-09-28SUMMONS (3) Issued as to U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (lc, ) (Entered: 09/29/2005)
2005-10-123ENTERED IN ERROR.....RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on Attorney General. Date of Service Upon Attorney General 10/4/2005. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit # 2 Affidavit)(Miller, James) Modified on 11/2/2005 (lc, ). (Entered: 10/12/2005)
2005-10-124ENTERED IN ERROR.....RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the US Attorney. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE served on 10/4/2005, answer due 12/5/2005 (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit)(Miller, James) Modified on 11/2/2005 (lc, ). (Entered: 10/12/2005)
2005-10-265ENTERED IN ERROR.....RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to (Attachments: # 1 # 2 )(Miller, James) Modified on 11/2/2005 (lc, ). (Entered: 10/26/2005)
2005-10-316Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 10/31/2005)
2005-11-01Minute order granting 6 defendant's consent motion for an enlargement of time to answer, move or otherwise respond. Defendant has up to and including November 30, 2005, within which to answer, move, or otherwise respond to the complaint. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on November 1, 2005. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 11/01/2005)
2005-11-01Set/Reset Deadlines: Answer due by 11/30/2005. (rew, ) (Entered: 11/01/2005)
2005-11-027SUMMONS Returned Executed as to U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Attorney. (Attachments: # 1 )(Miller, James) Modified on 11/3/2005 (lc, ). (Entered: 11/02/2005)
2005-11-028SUMMONS Returned Executed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 # 2 )(Miller, James) (Entered: 11/02/2005)
2005-11-309Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 11/30/2005)
2005-12-02Minute order granting 9 defendant's consent motion for an enlargement of time to answer, move, or otherwise respond. Defendant has up to and including December 14, 2005, within which to answer, move, or otherwise respond to plaintiff's complaint. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on December 2, 2005. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 12/02/2005)
2005-12-02Set/Reset Deadlines: Answer due by 12/14/2005. (rew, ) (Entered: 12/02/2005)
2005-12-1410ANSWER to Complaint by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 12/14/2005)
2005-12-26MINUTE ORDER. Before the Court in this FOIA case are a complaint and an answer. The requirements of LCvR 16.3 and Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are inapplicable. Within 30 days from the date of this order Defendant shall file a dispositive motion or, in the alternative, file a report setting forth the schedule according to which it will produce the documents sought by plaintiff. It is so ordered. (Kennedy, Henry) (Entered: 12/26/2005)
2006-01-2311Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 01/23/2006)
2006-01-24Minute order granting 11 defendant's consent motion for enlargement of time within which to file motion for summary judgment. Defendant has up to and including February 15, 2006, within which to file a motion for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on January 24, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 01/24/2006)
2006-01-24Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Summary Judgment motions due by 2/15/2006. (rew, ) (Entered: 01/24/2006)
2006-02-1512MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts # 2 Exhibit Declaration of Robin Wieland# 3 Exhibit Exhibits to Wieland Declaration# 4 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 02/15/2006)
2006-02-2113Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Opposition to Summary Judgment by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC. (Miller, James) Additional attachment(s) added on 2/22/2006 (lc, ). (Entered: 02/21/2006)
2006-02-2114ENTERED IN ERROR.....NOTICE of filing of Proposed Order by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC re 13 Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Opposition to Summary Judgment (Miller, James) Modified on 2/22/2006 (lc, ). (Entered: 02/21/2006)
2006-02-22NOTICE OF CORRECTED DOCKET ENTRY: re 14 Notice (Other) was entered in error and and the document was added to docket entry #13. (lc, ) (Entered: 02/22/2006)
2006-02-23Minute order granting 13 plaintiff's consent motion for enlargement of time within which to file opposition to summary judgment. Plaintiff shall have up to and including March 6, 2006, within which to file an opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. Reply shall be due by March 29, 2006. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on February 23, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 02/23/2006)
2006-02-23Set/Reset Deadlines: Plaintiff's opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment due by 3/6/2006. Defendant's Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 3/29/2006. (rew, ) (Entered: 02/23/2006)
2006-03-0615Memorandum in opposition to re 12 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment filed by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit with attached exhibits# 2 Affidavit with attached exhibits# 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Miller, James) (Entered: 03/06/2006)
2006-03-2816Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 03/28/2006)
2006-03-29Minute order granting 16 defendant's consent motion for extension of time to reply to plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant has up to and including April 12, 2006, within which to file reply memorandum. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on March 28, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 03/29/2006)
2006-03-30Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Reply memo to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment due by 4/12/2006. (rew, ) (Entered: 03/30/2006)
2006-04-1117Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 04/11/2006)
2006-04-12Minute order granting 17 defendant's consent motion for extension of time to reply to plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant shall have up to and including May 8, 2006, within which to file a reply memorandum. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on April 12, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 04/12/2006)
2006-04-12Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Reply to Plaintiff's opposition to defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment due by 5/8/2006. (rew, ) (Entered: 04/12/2006)
2006-05-0818MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 05/08/2006)
2006-05-12Minute order granting 18 defendant's motion for extension of time to reply to plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant shall have up to and including May 18, 2006, within which to file a reply memorandum. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on May 12, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 05/12/2006)
2006-05-12Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Reply to Plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment due by 5/18/2006. (rew, ) (Entered: 05/12/2006)
2006-05-1719Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 05/17/2006)
2006-05-18Minute order granting 19 defendant's consent motion for enlargement of time to file reply to plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant shall have up to and including May 31, 2006, within which to file a reply memorandum. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on May 18, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 05/18/2006)
2006-05-22Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Reply to Plaintiff's opposition to defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment due by 5/31/2006. (rew, ) (Entered: 05/22/2006)
2006-05-3020Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 05/30/2006)
2006-05-31Minute order granting 20 defendant's consent motion for extension of time to reply to plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant shall have up to and including June 8, 2006, to reply. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on May 31, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 05/31/2006)
2006-05-31Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Reply to Plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment due by 6/8/2006. (rew, ) (Entered: 05/31/2006)
2006-06-0721Joint MOTION for Order Governing Further Proceedings by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit (Exhibit A) Supplemental Declaration of John Montandon# 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 06/07/2006)
2006-06-0822Order granting 21 the parties' joint motion for entry of order governing further proceedings. Plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be supplemented to include the supplemental declaration of John Montandon and that defendant's reply memorandum shall be due June 23, 2006. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on June 8, 2006. (FL, ) Modified on 6/12/2006 (FL, ). (Entered: 06/08/2006)
2006-06-2123Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 06/21/2006)
2006-06-27Minute order granting 23 defendant's consent motion for extension of time to reply to plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant shall have up to and including July 3, 2006, within which to file its reply memorandum. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on June 27, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 06/27/2006)
2006-06-27Set/Reset Deadlines: Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 7/3/2006. (adc, ) (Entered: 06/27/2006)
2006-07-0324REPLY to opposition to motion re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Supplemental Wieland Declaration# 2 Exhibit USDA Brochure# 3 Exhibit USDA Statistics)(Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 07/03/2006)
2006-07-0625MOTION for Leave to File a Response to Defendant's Reply re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC. (Miller, James) Modified on 7/7/2006 (lc, ). (Entered: 07/06/2006)
2006-07-07Minute order granting 25 plaintiff's motion for leave to file a response to defendant's reply. Plaintiff shall have up to and including July 20, 2006, within which to file a response to defendant's reply Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on July 7, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 07/07/2006)
2006-07-07Set/Reset Deadlines: Response to defendant's reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 7/20/2006. (adc) (Entered: 07/07/2006)
2006-07-2026SURREPLY to re 24 Reply to opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment filed by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Second Supplemental Affidavit of John L. Montandon)(Miller, James) (Entered: 07/20/2006)
2006-08-0927Memorandum Opinion and Order. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on August 9, 2006. (FL, ) (Entered: 08/09/2006)
2006-08-0928Judgment is entered in favor of plaintiff, Multi Ag Media LLC, with respect to the Livestock Assistance Program and the Livestock Compensation Program files; and that judgment is entered in favor of defendant, Department of Agriculture, with respect to the Compliance File and the GIS database. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on August 9, 2006. (FL, ) (Entered: 08/09/2006)
2006-08-1529CERTIFICATE of Counsel Pursuant to F.R.A.P. 10(b)(1)(B) by James D. Miller on behalf of MULTI AG MEDIA LLC (Miller, James) (Entered: 08/15/2006)
2006-08-1530NOTICE OF APPEAL as to 28 Judgment,, 27 Memorandum & Opinion by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC. Fee: $ 455 - Fee Status: Fee Paid. Receipt #137806 (lc, ) Modified on 8/16/2006 (lc, ). (Entered: 08/16/2006)
2006-08-16Transmission of Notice of Appeal and Docket Sheet to US Court of Appeals re 30 Notice of Appeal (lc, ) (Entered: 08/16/2006)
2006-08-1731Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Attorney's Fees by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order Proposed Order)(Miller, James) (Entered: 08/17/2006)
2006-08-17USCA Case Number 06-5231 for 30 Notice of Appeal filed by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC,. (jf, ) (Entered: 08/18/2006)
2006-08-18Minute order granting 31 plaintiff's consent motion for enlargement of time within which to file motion for attorney's fees. Plaintiff shall have an extension of fourteen (14) days after the appellate court issues a final mandate to file its motion for attorney's fees. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., on August 18, 2006. Official paperless order (FL, ) (Entered: 08/18/2006)
2006-10-0632NOTICE OF CROSS APPEAL as to 28 Judgment, by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. Fee Status: No Fee Paid. Parties have been notified. (Blumberg, Peter) (Entered: 10/06/2006)
2006-10-10Transmission of Notice of Appeal and Docket Sheet to US Court of Appeals re 32 Notice of Cross Appeal (lc, ) (Entered: 10/10/2006)
2006-10-30USCA Case Number 06-5311 for 32 Notice of Cross Appeal filed by U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,. (lc, ) (Entered: 10/31/2006)
2008-04-1635MANDATE of USCA (certified copy) as to 30 Notice of Appeal filed by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC, it is ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the judgment of the District Court appealed from in these causes is hereby reversed with respect to the compliance file and the GIS database and the cases is remanded for furhter proceedings, in accordance with the opinion of the court filed herein this date. (USCA No. 06-5231) (Attachments: # 1 USCA Opinion dated 2/15/2008)(kb) (Entered: 04/23/2008)
2008-04-1733NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Alan Burch on behalf of U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Substituting for attorney Peter Blumberg (Burch, Alan) (Entered: 04/17/2008)
2008-04-1734Joint MOTION for Extension of Time to Move for Attorneys' Fees by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (Burch, Alan) (Entered: 04/17/2008)
2008-04-21MINUTE ORDER granting 34 Joint Motion to Extend Time to Move for Attorneys' Fees. Accordingly, plaintiff have until and including April 28, 2008 to file a motion for attorneys' fees. Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. on April 21, 2008. (NP) (Entered: 04/21/2008)
2008-04-2536ENTERED IN ERROR.....STIPULATION of Dismissal and Settlement by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Burch, Alan) Modified on 4/28/2008 (nmw, ). (Entered: 04/25/2008)
2008-04-28NOTICE OF CORRECTED DOCKET ENTRY: Docket Entry 36 Stipulation of Dismissal was entered in error and counsel was instructed to refile said pleading with the correct case number. (nmw, ) (Entered: 04/28/2008)
2008-04-2837STIPULATION of Dismissal (Corrected) by MULTI AG MEDIA LLC, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. (Burch, Alan) (Entered: 04/28/2008)
2008-04-3038STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT AND DISMISSAL ( Signed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy on 4/30/08)(tj ) (Entered: 04/30/2008)
Hide Docket Events
by FOIA Project Staff