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Case TitleAnimal Legal Defense Fund v. United States Food & Drug Administration
DistrictNorthern District of California
CitySan Francisco
Case Number3:2012cv04376
Date Filed2012-08-20
Date Closed2013-08-23
JudgeMagistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte
PlaintiffAnimal Legal Defense Fund
DefendantUnited States Food & Drug Administration
AppealNinth Circuit 13-17131
AppealNinth Circuit 19-15528
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Opinion/Order [43]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal magistrate judge in California has ruled that the Animal Legal Defense Fund has not shown why it is entitled to discovery in its FOIA suit against the FDA for inspection reports of Texas egg production farms. The FDA withheld information about the number of hens at each farm, the number of hen houses, the number of rows and floors per hen house, and the number of birds per cage under Exemption 4 (confidential business information). To support its exemption claim, the agency provided affidavits from Chad Gregory, President of United Egg Producers; Steve Storm, Vice-President of Operations at Cal-Maine Food; and Layne Barry, Controller of Mahard Egg Farm, all of whom had attested to the confidentiality of the withheld information. In response, ALDF asked to depose the three on the question of the public availability of the information and its level of confidentiality. ALDF argued that "public disclosure of general information similar to the information that was redacted from the FOIA requested documents shows that the information Plaintiff seeks in discovery actually exists and that exemption 4 should not apply to the specific information sought in this case because disclosure would not cause competitive harm." Rejecting ALDF's discovery request, the magistrate judge noted that "the information that has been withheld in this case, which includes detailed data at an individual farm level, such as total hen population and number of birds per cage, could be used to determine an accurate estimate of a farm's egg production capacity. Plaintiff argues that general information about egg production capacity, at least at certain points in time, has been previously publicly disclosed. Yet discovery of the withheld information is not warranted even if there has been public disclosure of the general egg production information because the information that has been withheld also provides details about operations that have other competitive value."
Issues: Litigation - Discovery
Opinion/Order [45]
Opinion/Order [52]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in California has ruled that the FDA has shown that disclosure of information about egg production capacity for a number of Texas egg producers would likely cause competitive harm to the producers and was properly withheld under Exemption 4 (confidential business information). The Animal Legal Defense Fund requested the records from the FDA. The agency's Dallas office processed the request, located 12 inspection reports and related documents, and disclosed all the records with redactions, primarily made under Exemption 4. Although ALDF provided expert testimony rebutting that of the FDA and the Texas egg producers, the court agreed that disclosure of much of the production capacity information would likely cause competitive harm. ALDF argued that disclosure of some data elements could not be used to undercut egg producers' prices. The court responded by noting that "Plaintiff, however, ignores the fact that competitors can acquire or accurately estimate other pieces of information to combine with the totality of redacted information to cause competitive harm." The court observed that "while Plaintiff is correct that other information beyond the redacted information is needed to undercut competitors, Defendant has shown that such other information can be estimated from other publicly available sources. . ." ALDF also argued that the redacted information was not necessary to offer customers a better deal. But the court explained that "the test for competitive harm is not whether the information is necessary, but whether release of the information is likely to cause substantial competitive harm." Allowing the agency to withhold most of the information, the court concluded that the agency had not shown why disclosure of the number of birds per cage would cause competitive harm and ordered the agency to disclose that information.
Issues: Exemption 4 - Confidential business information
Opinion/Order [172]
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2012-08-201COMPLAINT for Injunctive & Declaratory Relief Under The Freedon of Information Act - [Summons Issued] against United States Food & Drug Administration,[Filing Fee: $350.00, Receipt Number 34611077736] Filed by Plaintiff Animal Legal Defense Fund. (tn, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/20/2012) (tn, COURT STAFF). (Additional attachment(s) added on 8/23/2012: # 1 Complaint) (tn, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 08/22/2012)
2012-08-202SUMMONS Issued as to Defendant United States Food & Drug Administration. (tn, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/20/2012) (tn, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 08/22/2012)
2012-08-203ADR SCHEDULING ORDER: Joint Case Management Statement due 11/13/2012 & InitialCase Management Conference set for 11/20/2012 at 10:00 AM.. (tn, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/20/2012) (tn, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 08/22/2012)
2012-08-20CASE DESIGNATED for Electronic Filing. (tn, COURT STAFF) (Entered: 08/22/2012)
2012-09-214ANSWER to Complaint filed by United States Food & Drug Administration. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 9/21/2012) (Entered: 09/21/2012)
2012-09-275CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE of Summons & Complailnt filed by Animal Legal Defense Fund: re 1 Complaint, re 2 Summons Issued, re 3 ADR Scheduling Order (Berry, Christopher) (Filed on 9/27/2012) (Entered: 09/27/2012)
2012-10-026CLERKS NOTICE REQUESTING ALL PARTIES FILE CONSENT OR DECLINATION. Admissions due by 10/16/2012. (kns, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/2/2012) (Entered: 10/02/2012)
2012-10-027CONSENT/DECLINATION to Proceed Before a US Magistrate Judge by United States Food & Drug Administration.. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 10/2/2012) (Entered: 10/02/2012)
2012-10-028CONSENT/DECLINATION to Proceed Before a US Magistrate Judge by Animal Legal Defense Fund.. (Berry, Christopher) (Filed on 10/2/2012) (Entered: 10/02/2012)
2012-10-309NOTICE of need for ADR Phone Conference (ADR L.R. 3-5 d) (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 10/30/2012) (Entered: 10/30/2012)
2012-10-3010ADR Certification (ADR L.R. 3-5 b) of discussion of ADR options (Berry, Christopher) (Filed on 10/30/2012) (Entered: 10/30/2012)
2012-10-3011Certification of Interested Entities or Persons filed by Animal Legal Defense Fund (Berry, Christopher) (Filed on 10/30/2012) (Entered: 10/30/2012)
2012-10-3112ADR Clerks Notice Setting ADR Phone Conference on 11/19/12 at 10:30 a.m. Please note that you must be logged into an ECF account of counsel of record in order to view this document. (tjs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/31/2012) (Entered: 10/31/2012)
2012-11-0113ADR Certification (ADR L.R. 3-5 b) of discussion of ADR options (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 11/1/2012) (Entered: 11/01/2012)
2012-11-1314JOINT CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT (JOINT) filed by United States Food & Drug Administration. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 11/13/2012) (Entered: 11/13/2012)
2012-11-19ADR Remark: ADR Phone Conference held by HAH on 11/19/12. (sgd, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/19/2012) (Entered: 11/19/2012)
2012-11-2115Minute Entry: Initial Case Management Conference held on 11/20/2012 before The Honorable Elizabeth D Laporte (Date Filed: 11/21/2012). (Recording #10:13- 10:27.) (knm, COURT STAFF) (Date Filed: 11/21/2012) (Entered: 11/21/2012)
2012-11-2816CASE MANAGEMENT SCHEDULING ORDER: Joinder of Parties due by 11/27/2012. Motions due by 1/11/2013. Cross Motions due by 2/11/2013. Responses to Defendant's MSJ due by 2/11/2013. Replies to Defendant's MSJ due by 3/4/2013. Motion Hearing set for 4/16/2013 02:00 PM in Courtroom E, 15th Floor, San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. Signed by Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte on 11/20/2012. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/28/2012) (Entered: 11/28/2012)
2013-01-1117NOTICE OF MOTION & MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by United States Food & Drug Administration. Motion Hearing set for 4/16/2013 09:00 AM in Courtroom E, 15th Floor, San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. Responses due by 1/25/2013. Replies due by 2/1/2013. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Barry, # 2 Declaration of Gregory; Exh A, # 3 Declaration of Kaelin; Exh A, # 4 Declaration of Ramirez, # 5 Declaration of Raysor, # 6 Declaration of Sadler; Exh A-D, # 7 Declaration of Storm)(Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 1/11/2013) (Entered: 01/11/2013)
2013-01-1118[Proposed] Order on re 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by United States Food & Drug Administration. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 1/11/2013) (Entered: 01/11/2013)
2013-01-1619CLERKS NOTICE RESETTING THE TIME FOR HEARING THE 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment . Motion Hearing set for 4/16/2013 02:00 PM in Courtroom E, 15th Floor, San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. The deadlines to file pleadings shall remain as previously set. This is a text only docket entry, there is no document associated with this notice. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/16/2013) (Entered: 01/16/2013)
2013-01-1720Correction of Opposition/Response or Reply Deadlines pertaining to 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment (Reason: Correcting an error) filed byUnited States Food & Drug Administration. Responses due by 2/11/2013. Replies due by 3/4/2013. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 1/17/2013) (Entered: 01/17/2013)
2013-01-2821Stipulation and [Proposed] Order Continuing Summary Judgment Briefing Schedule filed by Animal Legal Defense Fund, United States Food & Drug Administration. (Attachments: #(1) [Proposed] Order) (Berry, Christopher) (Filed on 1/28/2013) (Entered: 01/28/2013)
2013-01-3022ORDER Signed by Chief Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte granting re 21 Stipulation for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply to re 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment . (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/30/2013) (Entered: 01/30/2013)
2013-02-2523First MOTION for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery filed by Animal Legal Defense Fund. Motion Hearing set for 4/9/13 at 9:00 am. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Proposed Order, # 2 Declaration Dillard Decl., # 3 Proposed Order Berry Decl., # 4 Declaration Cromwell Decl., # 5 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. A to F, # 6 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. G to I, # 7 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. J to O, # 8 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. P to Z, # 9 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. AA to JJ)(Berry, Christopher) (Filed on 2/25/2013) Modified on 2/26/2013 (mclS, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 02/25/2013)
2013-02-2524Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and Opposition to 17 Motion for Summary Judgment and Objections to the Government's evidence filed by Animal Legal Defense Fund. Motion Hearing set for 5/7/2013 09:00 AM in Courtroom E, 15th Floor, San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. Responses due by 4/1/2013. Replies due by 4/15/2013. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Gay Decl., # 2 Declaration Suderman Decl., # 3 Declaration Cromwell Decl., # 4 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. A to F, # 5 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. G to F, # 6 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. J to O, # 7 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. P to Z, # 8 Exhibit Cromwell Decl. Exs. AA to JJ, # 9 Proposed Order Proposed Order)(Berry, Christopher) (Filed on 2/25/2013) Modified on 2/26/2013 (mclS, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 02/25/2013)
2013-02-2625NOTICE of Appearance by Jenni James (James, Jenni) (Filed on 2/26/2013) (Entered: 02/26/2013)
2013-03-0426MOTION to Continue hearing date on Plaintiff's motion for discovery to same date/time as summary judgment hearing on May 7 filed by United States Food & Drug Administration. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Declaration)(Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 3/4/2013) (Entered: 03/04/2013)
2013-03-0427EXHIBITS re 26 MOTION to Continue hearing date on Plaintiff's motion for discovery to same date/time as summary judgment hearing on May 7 Part 1 filed byUnited States Food & Drug Administration. (Related document(s) 26 ) (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 3/4/2013) (Entered: 03/04/2013)
2013-03-0428EXHIBITS re 26 MOTION to Continue hearing date on Plaintiff's motion for discovery to same date/time as summary judgment hearing on May 7 Part 2 filed byUnited States Food & Drug Administration. (Related document(s) 26 ) (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 3/4/2013) (Entered: 03/04/2013)
2013-03-0429EXHIBITS re 26 MOTION to Continue hearing date on Plaintiff's motion for discovery to same date/time as summary judgment hearing on May 7 Part 3 filed byUnited States Food & Drug Administration. (Related document(s) 26 ) (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 3/4/2013) (Entered: 03/04/2013)
2013-03-0430EXHIBITS re 26 MOTION to Continue hearing date on Plaintiff's motion for discovery to same date/time as summary judgment hearing on May 7 part 4 filed byUnited States Food & Drug Administration. (Related document(s) 26 ) (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 3/4/2013) (Entered: 03/04/2013)
2013-03-0431EXHIBITS re 26 MOTION to Continue hearing date on Plaintiff's motion for discovery to same date/time as summary judgment hearing on May 7 filed byUnited States Food & Drug Administration. (Related document(s) 26 ) (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 3/4/2013) (Entered: 03/04/2013)
2013-03-0832RESPONSE (re 26 MOTION to Continue hearing date on Plaintiff's motion for discovery to same date/time as summary judgment hearing on May 7 ) Opposition and Counter-Motion filed byAnimal Legal Defense Fund. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration James Declaration, # 2 Declaration Berry Declaration, # 3 Proposed Order Proposed Order)(James, Jenni) (Filed on 3/8/2013) (Entered: 03/08/2013)
2013-03-1133RESPONSE (re 23 First MOTION for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery ) filed byUnited States Food & Drug Administration. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Declaration, # 3 Declaration, # 4 Declaration, # 5 Declaration)(Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 3/11/2013) (Entered: 03/11/2013)
2013-03-1234CLERKS NOTICE RESETTING THE TIME FOR HEARING THE MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO COMPLETE DISCOVERY: Reset Deadlines as to 23 First MOTION for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery . Motion Hearing set for 4/9/2013 09:30 AM in Courtroom E, 15th Floor, San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. This is a text only docket entry, there is no document associated with this notice. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/12/2013) (Entered: 03/12/2013)
2013-03-1235Order by Chief Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte denying 26 Motion to Change Hearing Date.(knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/12/2013) (Entered: 03/12/2013)
2013-03-12Reset Deadlines as to 23 First MOTION for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery . (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/12/2013) (Entered: 03/12/2013)
2013-03-1836REPLY (re 23 First MOTION for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery ) filed byAnimal Legal Defense Fund. (James, Jenni) (Filed on 3/18/2013) (Entered: 03/18/2013)
2013-04-0937TRANSCRIPT ORDER by United States Food & Drug Administration for Court Reporter Sarah Goekler. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 4/9/2013) (Entered: 04/09/2013)
2013-04-1038Minute Entry: Motion Hearing held on 4/9/2013 before Chief Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte (Date Filed: 4/10/2013) re 23 First MOTION for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery filed by Animal Legal Defense Fund. (Court Reporter: Sarah Goekler) (ahm, COURT STAFF) (Date Filed: 4/10/2013) Modified on 4/12/2013 (knm, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 04/10/2013)
2013-04-1039Transcript of Proceedings held on April 9, 2013, before Judge Laporte. Court Reporter/Transcriber Sarah Goekler, Telephone number (530)941-2621; sgoekler.csr@gmail.com. Per General Order No. 59 and Judicial Conference policy, this transcript may be viewed only at the Clerks Office public terminal or may be purchased through the Court Reporter/Transcriber until the deadline for the Release of Transcript Restriction.After that date it may be obtained through PACER. Any Notice of Intent to Request Redaction, if required, is due no later than 5 business days from date of this filing. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 7/9/2013. (Related documents(s) 37 ) (slg, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/10/2013) (Entered: 04/10/2013)
2013-04-1140ERRATA re 36 Reply to Opposition/Response by Animal Legal Defense Fund. (Attachments: # 1 Errata)(James, Jenni) (Filed on 4/11/2013) (Entered: 04/11/2013)
2013-04-1641Supplemental Brief re 36 Reply to Opposition/Response FDAS SUR-REPLY TO PLAINTIFFS RULE 56(d) MOTION FOR DISCOVERY filed byUnited States Food & Drug Administration. (Related document(s) 36 ) (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 4/16/2013) (Entered: 04/16/2013)
2013-04-2542CLERKS NOTICE VACATING THE MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AT THIS TIME. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/25/2013) (Entered: 04/25/2013)
2013-05-0743ORDER by Chief Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte denying 23 Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery (edllc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/7/2013) (Entered: 05/07/2013)
2013-05-08Set/Reset Deadlines as to 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment . Replies due by 5/28/2013. Motion Hearing set for 7/16/2013 09:00 AM in Courtroom E, 15th Floor, San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/8/2013) (Entered: 05/08/2013)
2013-05-08Set/Reset Deadlines as to 24 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and Opposition . Responses due by 5/28/2013. Replies due by 6/11/2013. Motion Hearing set for 7/16/2013 09:00 AM in Courtroom E, 15th Floor, San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/8/2013) (Entered: 05/08/2013)
2013-05-1044STIPULATION WITH PROPOSED ORDER Re Slight Revision to Remainder of Summary Judgment Briefing Schedule filed by United States Food & Drug Administration. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 5/10/2013) (Entered: 05/10/2013)
2013-05-1345STIPULATION AND ORDER re 44 Stipulation on Revised Summary Judgment Schedule:FDA's Responses/Reply due by 6/13/2013. ALDF's Replies due by 6/27/2013. Motion Hearing set for 7/30/2013 09:00 AM in Courtroom E, 15th Floor, San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. Signed by Judge Elizabeth D Laporte on 5/13/2013. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/13/2013) (Entered: 05/13/2013)
2013-06-1346REPLY (re 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment ) filed byUnited States Food & Drug Administration. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 6/13/2013) (Entered: 06/13/2013)
2013-06-2747REPLY (re 24 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and Opposition , 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment ) and Alternative Motion for Continuance filed byAnimal Legal Defense Fund. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Bassett Decl., # 2 Declaration Berry Decl., # 3 Proposed Order)(Berry, Christopher) (Filed on 6/27/2013) Modified on 6/28/2013 (mclS, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 06/27/2013)
2013-07-0548OBJECTIONS to 47 REPLY EVIDENCE & OPPOSITION TO ALDFS MOTION FOR CONTINUANCE by United States Food & Drug Administration. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 7/5/2013) Modified on 7/8/2013 (mclS, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 07/05/2013)
2013-07-22Reset Internal Court Deadlines as to 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment , 24 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and Opposition . This entry does not effect any deadlines for the filing parties. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/22/2013) (Entered: 07/22/2013)
2013-07-2249STIPULATION WITH PROPOSED ORDER ON BRIEF CONTINUANCE OF HEARING DATE filed by United States Food & Drug Administration. (Carradero, Victoria) (Filed on 7/22/2013) (Entered: 07/22/2013)
2013-07-2250Order by Chief Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte granting 49 Stipulation re Brief Continuance of Hearing Date.(knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/22/2013) (Entered: 07/22/2013)
2013-07-22Reset Deadlines as to 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment , 24 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and Opposition . Motion Hearing set for 8/13/2013 09:00 AM in Courtroom E, 15th Floor, San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/22/2013) (Entered: 07/22/2013)
2013-08-1551Minute Entry: Motion Hearing held on 8/13/2013 before The Honorable Elizabeth D Laporte (Date Filed: 8/15/2013) re 24 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and Opposition filed by Animal Legal Defense Fund, 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by United States Food & Drug Administration. (Recording #9:13- 9:45.) (knm, COURT STAFF) (Date Filed: 8/15/2013) (Entered: 08/15/2013)
2013-08-2352ORDER by Judge Elizabeth D Laporte granting in part and denying in part 17 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part 24 Motion for Summary Judgment (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/23/2013) (Entered: 08/23/2013)
2013-08-2353JUDGMENT. Signed by Judge Elizabeth D Laporte on 8/22/2013. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/23/2013) (Entered: 08/23/2013)
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