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Case TitleISLAND FILM, S.A. v. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2008cv00286
Date Filed2008-02-19
Date Closed2013-11-30
JudgeJudge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein
PlaintiffISLAND FILM, S.A.
DefendantDEPARTMENT OF TREASURY
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Opinion/Order [17]
Opinion/Order [23]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Richard Roberts has ruled the Treasury Department properly invoked several exemptions to withhold information from Island Film, a Cuban company, concerning the blocking of a $30,000 transaction under the sanctions currently in place against Cuba. However, Roberts found the agency's claims under Exemption 7(D) (confidential sources) and Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques) had not been adequately supported. Roberts initially dismissed the agency's claims under the circumvention prong of Exemption 2 (internal practices and procedures), which the agency had claimed prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Milner v. Dept of Navy finding that Exemption 2 did not include a circumvention prong. In the aftermath of Milner, Roberts pointed out the agency would either have to release tracking numbers or find another exemption to protect them. Turning to Exemption 4 (confidential business information), the Office of Foreign Assets Control primarily argued that "public disclosure of the documents submitted by license applicants would impair OFAC's ability to obtain information in the future." Roberts agreed with the impairment claim and indicated as well that "release of the specified information such as contractual terms and banking information, could cause the applicants competitive harm by revealing customer identities and transaction details, and cause the customers to seek the services of competitors who may seem better able to protect their financial privacy." The agency withheld financial transactions details under Exemption 7(D) it claimed were submitted in confidence. But Roberts found that "Treasury has not provided express evidence that its sources drafted the correspondence under a promise of confidentiality. Because the act is economic in nature and not inherently violent, providing information regarding sanctions violations is more closely analogous to providing information on computer crimes than to providing information about rebellion or insurrection, drug trafficking or terrorism. Additionally, OFAC's assurance that it generally 'treats such correspondence' as confidential is insufficient to warrant an inference that it provided such an assurance for the correspondence that is at issue here." The agency withheld screen printouts from various databases used during investigations under Exemption 7(E). Roberts indicated that "the documents themselves do not describe OFAC's procedure for accessing certain databases in the course of its investigations. Neither the Vaughn index nor Treasury's affidavit provides a sufficiently specific link between disclosing the particular database printouts that Treasury seeks to withhold and revealing when, how, and to what extent OFAC relies on these databases in its investigations. . . In the absence of such an explanation linking disclosure to the risk of circumventing the law, Treasury has not provided a sufficient basis for withholding these documents under Exemption 7(E), and it will be ordered to supplement its affidavit and Vaughn index with respect to these documents."
Issues: Exemption 7(E) - Investigative methods or techniques
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2008-02-191COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY ( Filing fee $ 350, receipt number 4616010393) filed by ISLAND FILM, S.A.. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(jf, ) (Entered: 02/21/2008)
2008-02-19SUMMONS (3) Issued as to DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General. (jf, ) (Entered: 02/21/2008)
2008-02-192LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by ISLAND FILM, S.A. (jf, ) (Entered: 02/21/2008)
2008-03-243NOTICE of Appearance by Raymond A. Martinez on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (Martinez, Raymond) (Entered: 03/24/2008)
2008-04-024MOTION for Extension of Time to answer or otherwise respond by DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Declaration of Virginia Canter with attached exhibits)(Martinez, Raymond) (Entered: 04/02/2008)
2008-04-02MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that the defendant's motion 4 for an extension of time to file an answer be, and hereby is, GRANTED. Answer is due by July 7, 2008. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 4/2/08. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 04/02/2008)
2008-04-07Set/Reset Deadlines: Answer due by 7/7/2008. (lin, ) (Entered: 04/07/2008)
2008-07-035Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to Answer or Otherwise Respond by DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (Martinez, Raymond) (Entered: 07/03/2008)
2008-07-10MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that the defendant's motion 5 for an extension of time to file an answer be, and hereby is, GRANTED. Answer is due by August 4, 2008. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 7/9/08. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 07/10/2008)
2008-07-11Set/Reset Deadlines: Answer due by 8/4/2008, (zlin, ) (Entered: 07/11/2008)
2008-08-046ANSWER to 1 Complaint by DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. Related document: 1 Complaint filed by ISLAND FILM, S.A..(Russell, Beverly) (Entered: 08/04/2008)
2008-08-057Unopposed MOTION for Order (Briefing Schedule) by DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Russell, Beverly) (Entered: 08/05/2008)
2008-08-118SCHEDULING ORDER. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 8/8/08. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 08/11/2008)
2008-10-069NOTICE on Briefing Schedule (Consent) by DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (Russell, Beverly) (Entered: 10/06/2008)
2008-10-2210NOTICE on Briefing Schedule (Consent) by DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (Russell, Beverly) (Entered: 10/22/2008)
2008-10-2711MOTION for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Second Declaration of Virginia R. Canter, Oct. 23, 2008, # 3 Vaughn Index, # 4 Text of Proposed Order)(Russell, Beverly) (Entered: 10/27/2008)
2008-11-2612Memorandum in opposition to re 11 MOTION for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment filed by ISLAND FILM, S.A.. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum of Points and Authorities In Support, # 2 Statement of Material Facts For Which There is No Genuine Issue, # 3 Declaration of Peter S. Herrick, Esq., # 4 Order)(Herrick, Peter) (Entered: 11/26/2008)
2008-11-2613CROSS MOTION for Summary Judgment by ISLAND FILM, S.A. (See Docket Entry 12 to view document) (jf, ) (Entered: 11/28/2008)
2008-11-28NOTICE OF ERROR re 12 Memorandum in Opposition; emailed to pherrick@bellsouth.net, cc'd 3 associated attorneys -- The PDF file you docketed contained errors: 1. Two-part docket entry, 2. DO NOT REFILE**Clerk's Office has made the 2nd entry on behalf of counsel (jf, ) (Entered: 11/28/2008)
2008-12-1514REPLY to opposition to motion re 11 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Marshall Fields, Nov. 26, 2008, # 2 Declaration of John Battle, Dec. 15, 2008)(Russell, Beverly) . (Entered: 12/15/2008)
2008-12-16NOTICE OF ERROR re 14 Reply to opposition to Motion; emailed to beverly.russell@usdoj.gov, cc'd 3 associated attorneys -- The PDF file you docketed contained errors: 1. Please refile document, 2. Counsel is directed to file the same pleading as their Opposition (jf, ) (Entered: 12/16/2008)
2008-12-1715Memorandum in opposition to re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Marshall Fields, Nov. 26, 2008, # 2 Declaration of John Battle, Dec. 15, 2008)(Russell, Beverly) (Entered: 12/17/2008)
2010-09-0316NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Mercedeh Momeni on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Substituting for attorney Beverly Russell (Momeni, Mercedeh) (Entered: 09/03/2010)
2011-03-0917MEMORANDUM ORDER denying without prejudice the parties' cross motions 11 12 for summary judgment. The parties shall file by April 8, 2011 a joint status report and proposed order. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 3/9/11. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 03/09/2011)
2011-03-10Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 4/8/2011. (hs) (Entered: 03/10/2011)
2011-04-0818STATUS REPORT and Proposed Order by DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Herrick 4/7/11 Letter)(Momeni, Mercedeh) (Entered: 04/08/2011)
2011-04-11MINUTE ORDER: In light of the parties' April 8, 2011 joint status report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties file by May 2, 2011 a proposed order and joint status report stating whether the defendant has received the assessed fees and whether the parties consent to reinstating their cross motions for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 4/11/11. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 04/11/2011)
2011-04-12Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 5/2/2011. (hs) (Entered: 04/12/2011)
2011-04-2819Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to Transmit Payment to Defendant by ISLAND FILM, S.A. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order Proposed Order)(Herrick, Peter) (Entered: 04/28/2011)
2011-04-29MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that the plaintiff's consent motion 19 for an extension of time be, and hereby is, GRANTED. Plaintiff shall transmit payment of fees by June 1, 2011. The parties shall file by June 8, 2011 a proposed order and joint status report confirming payment and stating whether the parties consent to reinstating their cross-motions for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 4/29/11. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 04/29/2011)
2011-04-29Set Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 6/8/2011. (hs) (Entered: 04/29/2011)
2011-06-0820STATUS REPORT by ISLAND FILM, S.A.. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Herrick, Peter) (Entered: 06/08/2011)
2011-06-0821STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Exh. A - Email exchanges, # 2 Exhibit Exh. B - June 7, 2011 Letter and response email)(Momeni, Mercedeh) (Entered: 06/08/2011)
2011-06-23MINUTE ORDER: On April 29, 2011, the plaintiff was ordered to transmit payment of fees by June 1, 2011, and the parties were ordered to file a proposed order and joint status report by June 8, 2011. The plaintiff now admits it violated the order's payment deadline without leave. The plaintiff is cautioned that future violations of orders may result in sanctions or dismissal. In addition, the parties filed separate status reports and not one joint one as ordered, and the defendant's report failed to contain a proposed order. The defendant admits that it declined to join in a joint status report because the draft supplied by the plaintiff was reportedly incomplete. The defendant is cautioned that future violations of orders may result in sanctions and future separate status reports filed when a joint report is ordered may be stricken. The parties are reminded that a joint status report does not require joint agreement on all issues and may reflect differences where they exist. But an order to file a joint status report requires that one report and not separate ones be filed, and precludes one party unilaterally without leave to choose not to comply with the joint report requirement. In light of the status reports filed, it is hereby ORDERED that the defendant file by July 5, 2011 a proposed order and status report stating whether it received the plaintiff's fees and whether it consents to reinstating the cross-motions for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 6/23/11. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 06/23/2011)
2011-06-2322STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Momeni, Mercedeh) (Entered: 06/23/2011)
2011-06-23Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Status Report and Proposed Order due by 7/5/2011. (hs) (Entered: 06/23/2011)
2011-06-23MINUTE ORDER: In light of the defendant's June 23, 2011 status report, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties' cross-motions 11 12 for summary judgment be, and hereby are, REINSTATED. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 6/23/11. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 06/23/2011)
2012-06-2623MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting in part and denying without prejudice in part the defendant's motion 11 for summary judgment; entering judgment for the defendant with respect to FOIA Exemptions 4, 5, 6, and 7(C); denying the plaintiff's cross-motion 12 as to material withheld under those exemptions; and directing the defendant by July 17, 2012 to supplement its briefing regarding the redacted case tracking numbers in light of the Supreme Court's Milner decision and to supplement its Vaughn index and supporting affidavit both to properly justify the withholding of documents under Exemptions 7(D) and 7(E), and to reflect whether it could disclose portions of these documents in the event that its supplemental justifications for invoking Exemptions 7(D) and 7(E) are found to be insufficient. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 6/26/2012. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
2012-06-26Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Supplemental Memoranda due by 7/17/2012. (hs) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
2012-07-1224Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to Respond to the Court's June 26, 2012 Order by DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY (Momeni, Mercedeh) (Entered: 07/12/2012)
2012-07-13MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that the consent motion 24 for extension of time be, and hereby is, GRANTED. The defendant's supplement is due August 16, 2012. Signed by Judge Richard W. Roberts on 7/13/2012. (lcrwr1) (Entered: 07/13/2012)
2012-07-16Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Supplemental Memorandum due by 8/16/2012. (hs) (Entered: 07/16/2012)
2012-08-1625RESPONSE TO ORDER OF THE COURT re 23 Memorandum & Opinion,,, filed by DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration OFAC Suppl., # 2 Exhibit Exh. A (OFAC Supp. Vaughn), # 3 Exhibit Exh. B (OFAC Response Cover Letter), # 4 Declaration CBP Decl., # 5 Exhibit Exh. 1 (CBP Response Cover Letter))(Momeni, Mercedeh) (Entered: 08/16/2012)
2013-06-0526Case reassigned to Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein. Judge Richard W. Roberts no longer assigned to the case. (ds) (Entered: 06/05/2013)
2013-08-3027STANDING ORDER. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 8/30/13.(lcbjr2) (Entered: 08/30/2013)
2013-10-28MINUTE ORDER. In reviewing this matter, the Court realized that Defendant had filed a supplement to its motion for summary judgment 25 which Plaintiff has not responded to. By October 31, 2013, Plaintiff shall file Notice as to whether it intends to respond to Defendant's supplemental briefing. Failure to file such notice will mean that Plaintiff does not intend to file any response and the Court may deem any new issues presented in Defendant's supplement as conceded. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 10/28/13.(lcbjr2) (Entered: 10/28/2013)
2013-10-29Set/Reset Deadline: Notice due by 10/31/2013. (tth) (Entered: 10/29/2013)
2013-10-2928NOTICE by ISLAND FILM, S.A. re Order,, (Herrick, Peter) (Entered: 10/29/2013)
2013-10-29MINUTE ORDER. Plaintiff's response to Defendant's Supplemental Brief 25 is due no later than December 6, 2013. Any reply by Defendant is due on December 20, 2013. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 10/29/13.(lcbjr2) (Entered: 10/29/2013)
2013-10-29Set/Reset Deadlines: Response due by 12/6/2013; Reply due by 12/20/2013. (tth) (Entered: 10/29/2013)
2013-11-1529NOTICE by ISLAND FILM, S.A. re Order (Herrick, Peter) (Entered: 11/15/2013)
2013-11-2230ORDER granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment in full and setting schedule for Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees, in the event that one is filed. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 11/22/13.(lcbjr2) (Entered: 11/22/2013)
2013-11-26Set/Reset Deadlines: Motion due by 12/16/2013. Response due by 1/10/2014. (tth) (Entered: 11/26/2013)
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by FOIA Project Staff