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Case TitleSmart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. v. United States Internal Revenue Service
DistrictSouthern District of California
CitySan Diego
Case Number3:2015cv00452
Date Filed2015-02-27
Date Closed2018-11-26
JudgeJudge Barry Ted Moskowitz
PlaintiffSmart-Tek Service Solutions Corp
Case DescriptionSmart-Tek Service Solutions Corp., described in the complaint as a defunct corporation, submitted a FOIA request to the IRS. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. 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 [17]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in California has ruled that Smart-Tek Service Corporation may proceed with its FOIA suit against the IRS even though as a dissolved company under Florida law its ability to bring suit is limited to issues involved in winding up its affairs. Smart-Tek Service made a request to the IRS for its tax records. When the IRS failed to respond, Smart-Tek Service filed suit. The agency contended that since Smart-Tek Service was a dissolved company, it did not standing to bring a FOIA suit. The court disagreed, noting that "Plaintiff's FOIA suit falls within the realm of statutorily permitted acts for dissolved Florida corporations because it seeks documents that may be necessary for determining and settling Plaintiff's tax liabilities in the course of winding up. By attempting to obtain such tax-related agency records, Plaintiff is not conducting new business prohibited by [the Florida statute]. Instead, Plaintiff is taking steps that are a part of a corporation's winding up process after dissolution."
Issues: Litigation - Jurisdiction - Standing
Opinion/Order [36]
FOIA Project Annotation: In another in a series of suits brought by Smart-Tek Service Solutions against the IRS to obtain records about the company's tax liability for a number of alleged alter ego companies, a federal court in California has ruled that since the IRS has still not shown that it conducted an adequate search, the court will not rule on whether Exemption 3 (other statutes) or Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) applies to protect the identities of those companies for which the IRS believes Smart-Tek Service Solutions has tax liability. The IRS discovered that responsive records were in 65 boxes containing 140,000 pages. At this stage of the litigation, the agency claimed it had finished processing the request and had disclosed 1,598 pages in full and 369 pages in part. However, the court found the agency's description of its search was still not sufficient. The court noted that "the IRS has not explained how it interpreted Plaintiff's FOIA request. . .that is, what scope of records it decided fell within the scope of the request and for which it searched in response. Federal agencies responding to FOIA requests are required to use search methods that can reasonably be expected to yield the requested information. Without a description of the scope of documents the IRS determined to be responsive to the request, the Court has no context for evaluating the reasonableness of the methods it used to find them." The court explained that "to evaluate the adequacy of the IRS's search, the Court needs information regarding the document review to determine whether the IRS's search of the 65 boxes was reasonable." In its other suits, Smark-Tek argued that it could not evaluate whether the agency's search was adequate without knowing more about the identities of alleged alter ego companies, which the IRS withheld under ยง 6103. But here, the court concluded that the IRS had probably identified the alter ego companies in the tax lien it sent to Smart-Tek. The court pointed out 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." However, the court found that claims made by the agency under Exemption 5 (privileges), Exemption 7(A) (interference with ongoing investigation or proceeding) and Exemption 7(D) (confidential sources) were appropriate.
Issues: Adequacy - Search, Exemption 3 - Limited agency discretion
Opinion/Order [52]
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2015-02-271COMPLAINT Against United States Internal Revenue Service (Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0974-7847836.), filed by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. (Attachments: # 1 Cover Sheet) The new case number is 3:15-cv-00452-H-NLS. Judge Marilyn L. Huff and Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes are assigned to the case. (Shamoun, Ronson)(acc)(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. (acc)(jrd) (Entered: 02/27/2015)
2015-03-033CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp re 1 Complaint, (Shamoun, Ronson) (ag). (Entered: 03/03/2015)
2015-03-094SUMMONS Returned Executed by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. United States Internal Revenue Service served. (Shamoun, Ronson) (ag). (Entered: 03/09/2015)
2015-03-095SUMMONS Returned Executed by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. United States Internal Revenue Service served. (Shamoun, Ronson) (ag). (Entered: 03/09/2015)
2015-03-206NOTICE OF RELATED CASE(S) by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp of case(s) 15-cv-447-BTM-JMA; 15-cv-455-H-BGS; 15-cv-453-JLS-RBB; 15-cv-449-L-NLS re 1 Complaint, . (Shamoun, Ronson) Modified on 3/23/2015 to note that a low number order was issued; 15-cv-447-BTM-JMA (ag). (Entered: 03/20/2015)
2015-03-207NOTICE of Party With Financial Interest by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp re 1 Complaint, (Shamoun, Ronson) (ag). (Entered: 03/20/2015)
2015-03-278ORDER OF TRANSFER PURSUANT TO LOW NUMBER RULE. Case reassigned to Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz and Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler for all further proceedings. Judge Marilyn L. Huff and Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes no longer assigned to case. Create association to 3:15-cv-00447-BTM-JMA. The new case number is 15-CV-0452-BTM-JMA. Signed by Judge Marilyn L. Huff on 03/27/2015. Signed by Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz on 03/25/2015.(ag) (Entered: 03/30/2015)
2015-03-319MOTION 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 order on 4/1/2015 (rlu). (Entered: 03/31/2015)
2015-04-0110MOTION re 9 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)
2015-04-0311Stipulation Regarding Time for Answer. The parties stipulate that the United States has until 05/04/2015 to answer or otherwise respond to the Plaintiffs complaint. Signed by Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz on 04/01/2015. (ag) (Entered: 04/03/2015)
2015-04-0312ORDER. 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)
2015-05-0413MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim or in the alternative for Summary Judgment by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Attachments: # 1 Memo of Points and Authorities, # 2 Exhibit A - Florida Secretary of State Information)(Josey, Stephen) (rlu). (Entered: 05/04/2015)
2015-05-2214RESPONSE in Opposition re 13 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim or in the alternative for Summary Judgment filed by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. (Shamoun, Ronson) qc email re lacking pos on 5/26/2015 (rlu). (Entered: 05/22/2015)
2015-05-2615CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp re 14 Response in Opposition to Motion (Shamoun, Ronson) (rlu). (Entered: 05/26/2015)
2015-05-2816REPLY to Response to Motion re 13 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim or in the alternative for Summary Judgment filed by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Josey, Stephen) (rlu). (Entered: 05/28/2015)
2015-07-2717ORDER Denying 13 Motion to Dismiss and Denying Motion for Summary Judgment without prejudice. Defendants shall file an answer to the Complaint within 14 days of the entry of this Order. Signed by Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz on 7/27/2015. (rlu) (Entered: 07/28/2015)
2015-08-1118ANSWER to 1 Complaint, by United States Internal Revenue Service.(Josey, Stephen)(rlu). (Entered: 08/11/2015)
2015-08-1119ORDER Scheduling Telephonic Case Management Conference set for 9/15/2015 at 9:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler on 8/11/2015.(rlu) (Entered: 08/11/2015)
2015-09-1520Minute 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)
2015-09-1521ORDER: 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)
2015-12-1522Minute 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)
2016-01-2723Minute 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)
2016-03-0224Minute 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)
2016-03-0225ORDER: (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) (Entered: 03/02/2016)
2016-05-1926Minute 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)
2016-08-2427MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Josey, Stephen) (rlu). (Entered: 08/24/2016)
2016-08-2628ORDER granting 27 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)
2016-10-0729MOTION for Summary Judgment by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Attachments: # 1 Notice of Motion, # 2 Memo of Points and Authorities, # 3 Declaration of Rosanna Savala, # 4 Declaration of Delphine Thomas, # 5 Declaration of Christopher Valvardi)(Josey, Stephen) (acc). (Entered: 10/07/2016)
2016-10-2830NOTICE of Association of Counsel by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp (Semerdjian, Dick)Attorney Dick A Semerdjian added to party Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp(pty:pla) (rlu). (Entered: 10/28/2016)
2016-10-2831RESPONSE in Opposition re 29 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Declaration of Brian Bonar in Support of Opposition)(Semerdjian, Dick) (rlu). (Entered: 10/28/2016)
2016-11-2332NOTICE 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)
2016-11-2933CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by United States Internal Revenue Service re 32 Notice of Appearance, (McMonagle, Ryan) (rlu). (Entered: 11/29/2016)
2017-01-1334REPLY to Response to Motion re 29 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by United States Internal Revenue Service. (McMonagle, Ryan) (Entered: 01/13/2017)
2017-01-2035MINUTE ORDER, Motions Submitted 29 MOTION for Summary Judgment (no document attached) (rfm) (Entered: 01/20/2017)
2017-07-1036ORDER Granting in part and Denying without prejudice in part Defendant's 29 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz on 7/10/2017. (rlu) (Entered: 07/10/2017)
2017-08-1437ORDER 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)
2017-09-1438Minute 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)
2017-09-1539ORDER 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)
2017-11-0940Joint 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)
2017-11-0941ORDER granting 40 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)
2017-11-2942MOTION for Summary Judgment by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. (Attachments: # 1 Memo of Points and Authorities, # 2 Declaration, # 3 Proof of Service)(Semerdjian, Dick)(mxn). (Entered: 11/29/2017)
2017-11-2943MOTION for Summary Judgment on Remaining Issues by United States Internal Revenue Service. (Attachments: # 1 Memo of Points and Authorities, # 2 Declaration Christopher P. Valvardi, # 3 Declaration Delphine V. Thomas)(McMonagle, Ryan)(mxn). (Entered: 11/29/2017)
2018-01-1244RESPONSE in Opposition re 43 MOTION for Summary Judgment on Remaining Issues filed by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. (Attachments: # 1 Proof of Service)(Praskievicz, Owen)(mxn). (Entered: 01/12/2018)
2018-01-1245RESPONSE in Opposition re 42 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by United States Internal Revenue Service. (McMonagle, Ryan)(mxn). (Entered: 01/12/2018)
2018-01-1946***DOCUMENT WITHDRAWN PER 48 NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL*** REPLY to Response to Motion re 43 MOTION for Summary Judgment on Remaining Issues filed by United States Internal Revenue Service. (McMonagle, Ryan) QC email sent re: wrong event selected (mxn). Modified to withdraw on 1/24/2018 (mxn). (Entered: 01/19/2018)
2018-01-1947REPLY to Response to Motion re 42 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Smart-Tek Service Solutions Corp. (Attachments: # 1 Proof of Service)(Praskievicz, Owen)(mxn). (Entered: 01/19/2018)
2018-01-2348NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF DOCUMENT by United States Internal Revenue Service re 46 Reply to Response to Motion filed by United States Internal Revenue Service . (McMonagle, Ryan)(mxn). (Entered: 01/23/2018)
2018-01-2349RESPONSE in Support re 43 MOTION for Summary Judgment on Remaining Issues filed by United States Internal Revenue Service. (McMonagle, Ryan)(mxn). (Entered: 01/23/2018)
2018-01-2650MINUTE ORDER, Motions Submitted 42 MOTION for Summary Judgment , 43 MOTION for Summary Judgment on Remaining Issues (no document attached) (rfm) (Entered: 08/13/2018)
2018-10-2951ORDER OF TRANSFER. This case is transferred from the calendar of the Honorable Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler, to the calendar of the Honorable Linda Lopez for all further proceedings. All conferences or hearing dates previously set before Judge Adler will remain as scheduled and will be before Judge Lopez. Any dates set before any district judge remain unchanged. The new case number is 15-cv-00452-BTM-JMA. Signed by Magistrate Judge Barbara Lynn Major on 10/29/2018.(sjm) (Entered: 10/30/2018)
2018-11-2652ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIOIN FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT re 42 , 43 . Signed by Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz on 11/26/2018. (sjm) (Entered: 11/27/2018)
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