Skip to content

Case Detail

[Subscribe to updates]
Case TitleTrucept, Inc. v. United States Internal Revenue Service
DistrictSouthern District of California
CitySan Diego
Case Number3:2015cv00447
Date Filed2015-02-27
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Barry Ted Moskowitz
PlaintiffTrucept, Inc.
formerly known as Smart Tek Solutions, Inc.
Case DescriptionTrucept, Inc. submitted a FOIA request to the IRS. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Trucept filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Vaughn index, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUnited States Internal Revenue Service
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Opinion/Order [32]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in California has ruled that the IRS has not yet shown that it conducted an adequate search for records concerning tax liability for Smart-Tek Services and its legal alter ego companies and has declined to rule on the agency's exemption claims under Exemption 3 (other statutes), Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records) until the court resolves a dispute over whether the agency waived the exemptions during related litigation in Florida. Smart-Tek filed five FOIA suits after the IRS determined the company was responsible for unpaid payroll taxes for a number of companies that were legally related to Smart-Tek. In searching for records, the IRS found that the agent who handled the case had commingled records about all the companies in a file consisting of 141,000 pages. The agency had disclosed more than 3,000 pages in response to one of Smart-Tek's suits and 1,800 pages in response to a second request, but had withheld identifying information about all the other companies primarily under Section 6103, prohibiting disclosure of taxpayer information with consent and the two privacy exemptions. Smart-Tek argued that it could not respond to the agency's tax liability allegations without knowing the identities of the companies the agency considered legally related to Smart-Tek and that in a case challenging the conduct of the revenue agent, Goldberg v. United States (S.D. Fla, Aug. 5, 2015), the district court had disclosed the names of all the companies involved. Although the agency had spent more than a year reviewing the records, Judge Barry Moskowitz agreed with Smart-Tek that the company could not challenge the adequacy of the search without knowing more about how the agency decided to withhold records that did not identify Smart-Tek directly. He noted that "the fact that any privilege pertaining to the identities of the alter egos may have been dispelled does not necessarily mean the identity of every entity whose files were in the 65 boxes has to be disclosed to establish the reasonableness of the IRS's search. At this stage, the record regarding the search the IRS undertook is not yet complete, and the Court will reserve ruling on the merits of Plaintiff's argument until the record is more fully developed." As a result, Moskowitz observed that "the IRS has failed to carry its burden to demonstrate the adequacy of its search." Holding off on ruling on the agency's Section 6103 claims, Moskowitz pointed to an existing conundrum. He explained that "some of these taxpayers may be the alter ego entities whose documents Plaintiff seeks. The IRS disputes whether Plaintiff can obtain tax information relating to Plaintiff's alter egos without an authorization from the alter ego. Plaintiff cannot obtain such an authorization however, without knowing which entities' records have been withheld. Although the IRS claims even the names of the alter egos are protected from disclosure, if those names have already been published, such that any related privacy interest has been lost, there would appear to be no impediment to identifying, in subsequent briefing, any alter ego taxpayers whose records were withheld."
Issues: Adequacy - Search, Exemption 3 - Limited agency discretion
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2015-02-271COMPLAINT Against United States Internal Revenue Service (Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0974-7847551.), filed by Trucept, Inc.. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet) The new case number is 3:15-cv-00447-BTM-JMA. Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz and Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler are assigned to the case. (Shamoun, Ronson)(nbp)(jrd) (Entered: 02/27/2015)
2015-02-272Summons Issued. Counsel receiving this notice electronically should print this summons and serve it in accordance with Rule 4, Fed.R.Civ.P and LR 4.1. (nbp)(jrd) (Entered: 02/27/2015)
2015-03-033SUMMONS Returned Executed by Trucept, Inc. re 1 Complaint, (Shamoun, Ronson) qc email re incorrect event and modified text on 3/4/2015 (rlu). (Entered: 03/03/2015)
2015-03-094SUMMONS Returned Executed by Trucept, Inc.. United States Internal Revenue Service served. (Shamoun, Ronson) qc email re text and modified text on 3/10/2015 (rlu). Modified on 3/10/2015 (rlu). (Entered: 03/09/2015)
2015-03-095SUMMONS Returned Executed by Trucept, Inc.. United States Internal Revenue Service served. (Shamoun, Ronson) (rlu). (Entered: 03/09/2015)
2015-03-206NOTICE OF RELATED CASE(S) by Trucept, Inc. of case(s) 15-cv-455-H-BGS; 15-cv-453-JLS-RBB; 15-cv-0452-H-NLS; 15-cv-449-L-NLS . (Shamoun, Ronson) no low number prepared on 3/23/2015 (rlu). (Entered: 03/20/2015)
2015-03-207NOTICE of Party With Financial Interest by Trucept, Inc. re 1 Complaint, (Shamoun, Ronson) (rlu). (Entered: 03/20/2015)
2015-03-318MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer or other Responsive Pleading by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Attachments: # 1 Supplement Proposed Order)(Josey, Stephen)Attorney Stephen Andrew Josey added to party United States Internal Revenue Service(pty:dft) qc email re proposed orders on 4/1/2015 (rlu). (Entered: 03/31/2015)
2015-04-019MOTION re 8 MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer or other Responsive Pleading for entry of Stipulation by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Attachments: # 1 Supplement Stipulation)(Josey, Stephen) qc email re proposed order on 4/2/2015 (rlu). (Entered: 04/01/2015)
2015-04-0310Stipulation Regarding Time for Answer. The parties stipulate that the United States has until 05/4/2015 to answer or otherwise respond to the Plaintiffs complaint. Signed by Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz on 04/01/2015. (ag) (Entered: 04/03/2015)
2015-04-0311ORDER. The United States Motion for Entry of Stipulation is hereby granted. Signed by Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz on 04/03/2015.(ag) (Entered: 04/03/2015)
2015-05-0412ANSWER to 1 Complaint, by United States Internal Revenue Service.(Josey, Stephen) (rlu). (Entered: 05/04/2015)
2015-05-0613NOTICE AND ORDER for Early Neutral Evaluation Conference: Telephonic Early Neutral Evaluation set for 6/1/2015 at 9:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler on 5/6/2015.(rlu) (Entered: 05/06/2015)
2015-06-0114Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler: Early Neutral Evaluation Conference held on 6/1/2015. (Plaintiff Attorney Ronson Shamoun). (Defendant Attorney Stephen Josey). Case Management Conference set for 7/31/2015 09:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Counsel shall call in for the conference using the same dial-in information previously provided. (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 06/01/2015)
2015-07-3115Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler: Case Management Conference held on 7/31/2015. (Plaintiff Attorney Ronson Shamoun). (Defendant Attorney Stephen Josey). Case Management Conference set for 9/15/2015 09:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Counsel shall use the same call-in information previously provided. (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 07/31/2015)
2015-09-1516Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler: Case Management Conference held on 9/15/2015. (Plaintiff Attorney Ronson Shamoun). (Defendant Attorney Stephen Josey). Court to issue order. (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 09/15/2015)
2015-09-1517ORDER: The Court convened a Case Management Conference on 9/15/2015. (1) Setting Deadline to Complete Document Production and (2) Scheduling a telephonic Case Management Conference for 12/15/2015 at 9:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler on 9/15/2015.(rlu) (Entered: 09/15/2015)
2015-12-1518Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler: Case Management Conference held on 12/15/2015. (Plaintiff Attorney Ronson Shamoun). (Defendant Attorney Stephen Josey). Case Management Conference set for 1/27/2016 09:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Counsel shall use the same call-in information previously provided. (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 12/15/2015)
2016-01-2719Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler: Case Management Conference held on 1/27/2016. (Plaintiff Attorney Ronson Shamoun). (Defendant Attorney Stephen Josey). Case Management Conference set for 3/2/2016 09:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Counsel shall use the same call-in information previously provided. (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 01/27/2016)
2016-03-0220Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler: Case Management Conference held on 3/2/2016. (Plaintiff Attorney Ronson Shamoun). (Defendant Attorney Stephen Josey). Court to issue order. (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 03/02/2016)
2016-03-0221ORDER: (1) Setting Filing Deadline for Motions for Summary Judgment and (2) Scheduling Case Management Conference. Motions for summary judgment must be filed on or before 9/12/2016. A telephonic Case Management Conference will be held on 5/19/2016 at 9:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler on 3/2/2016.(rlu) (sjt). (Entered: 03/02/2016)
2016-05-1922Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler: Case Management Conference held on 5/19/2016. (Plaintiff Attorneys Ronson Shamoun, Allison Soares, Brad Paladini). (Defendant Attorney Stephen Josey). (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 05/19/2016)
2016-08-2423Joint MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Josey, Stephen) (rlu). (Entered: 08/24/2016)
2016-08-2624ORDER granting 23 Motion for Extension of Time to File. The deadline to file motions for summary judgment is continued from 9/12/2016 to 10/7/2016. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler on 8/26/2016. (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 08/26/2016)
2016-10-0725MOTION for Summary Judgment by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Attachments: # 1 Notice of Motion, # 2 Memo of Points and Authorities, # 3 Declaration of Jacqueline Queener, # 4 Declaration of Rosanna Savala, # 5 Declaration of Delphine Thomas)(Josey, Stephen) (acc). (Entered: 10/07/2016)
2016-10-2826NOTICE of Association of Counsel by Trucept, Inc. (Semerdjian, Dick)Attorney Dick A Semerdjian added to party Trucept, Inc.(pty:pla) (rlu). (Entered: 10/28/2016)
2016-10-2827RESPONSE in Opposition re 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Trucept, Inc.. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Declaration of Bonar in Support of Opposition)(Semerdjian, Dick) (rlu). (Entered: 10/28/2016)
2016-11-2328NOTICE of Appearance and Substitution of Counsel by Ryan O. McMonagle on behalf of United States Internal Revenue Service (McMonagle, Ryan)Attorney Ryan O. McMonagle added to party United States Internal Revenue Service(pty:dft) qc email re lacking pos on 11/28/2016 (rlu). (Entered: 11/23/2016)
2016-11-2929CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by United States Internal Revenue Service re 28 Notice of Appearance, (McMonagle, Ryan) (rlu). (Entered: 11/29/2016)
2017-01-1330REPLY to Response to Motion re 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by United States Internal Revenue Service. (McMonagle, Ryan) (Entered: 01/13/2017)
2017-01-2031MINUTE ORDER, Motions Submitted 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment (no document attached) (rfm) (Entered: 03/09/2017)
2017-07-0532ORDER Granting in part and Denying without prejudice in part Defendant's 25 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz on 7/5/2017. (rlu) (Entered: 07/05/2017)
2017-08-1433ORDER Scheduling Case Management Conference. Telephonic Case Management Conference set for 9/14/2017 at 9:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler on 8/14/2017.(mxn) (Entered: 08/14/2017)
2017-09-1434Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler: Case Management Conference held on 9/14/2017. (Plaintiff Attorneys Ronson Shamoun, Dick Semerdjian, Owen Praskievicz). (Defendant Attorney Ryan McMonagle). (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 09/14/2017)
2017-09-1535ORDER Setting Filing Deadline for Motions for Summary Judgment. The Court convened a Case Management Conference on 9/14/2017 at 9:30 a.m. Based on the Court's discussions with counsel, it is hereby ordered that additional cross-motions for summary judgment must be filed on or before 11/15/2017. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler on 9/15/2017.(mxn) (Entered: 09/15/2017)
2017-11-0936Joint MOTION for Extension of Time to File Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment by United States Internal Revenue Service. (McMonagle, Ryan)(mxn). (Entered: 11/09/2017)
2017-11-0937ORDER granting 36 Motion for Extension of Time to File. Cross-motions for summary judgment must be filed on or before 11/29/2017. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler on 11/9/2017. (no document attached) (cdc) (Entered: 11/09/2017)
2017-11-2938MOTION for Summary Judgment by Trucept, Inc. (Attachments: # 1 Memo of Points and Authorities, # 2 Declaration, # 3 Proof of Service)(Semerdjian, Dick)(mxn). (Entered: 11/29/2017)
2017-11-2939MOTION for Summary Judgment on Remaining Issues by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Attachments: # 1 Memo of Points and Authorities, # 2 Declaration of Jacqueline Kay Queener)(McMonagle, Ryan)(mxn). (Entered: 11/29/2017)
2017-11-3040NOTICE Regarding Exhibit Attachment by United States Internal Revenue Service re 39 MOTION for Summary Judgment on Remaining Issues (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Delphine V. Thomas)(McMonagle, Ryan)(mxn). (Entered: 11/30/2017)
2018-01-1241RESPONSE in Opposition re 39 MOTION for Summary Judgment on Remaining Issues filed by Trucept, Inc.. (Attachments: # 1 Proof of Service)(Praskievicz, Owen)(mxn). (Entered: 01/12/2018)
2018-01-1242RESPONSE in Opposition re 38 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by United States Internal Revenue Service. (McMonagle, Ryan)(mxn). (Entered: 01/12/2018)
Hide Docket Events
by FOIA Project Staff