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Case TitleWADHWA v. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
DistrictDistrict of New Jersey
CityCamden
Case Number1:2015cv02777
Date Filed2015-04-20
Date Closed2017-03-23
JudgeJudge Robert B. Kugler
PlaintiffDOM WADHWA, M.D.
Case DescriptionDom Wadhwa submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Veterans Affairs for records concerning employment discrimination charges against himself and two other non-Caucasian doctors. Wadhwa alleged he had made multiple requests for the records but the agency had failed to provide him with the information he sought. He then filed suit.
Complaint issues: Litigation - Recovery of Costs, Failure to respond within statutory time limit

DefendantSECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (AGENCY)
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Complaint attachment 5
Complaint attachment 6
Opinion/Order [10]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in New Jersey has ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs conducted an adequate search for records requested by Dom Wadhwa, but that it has not yet justified withholding an 827-page report under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). The court approved of the agency's use of a Glomar response neither confirming nor denying the existence of disciplinary records related to named individuals, but rejected the use of a Glomar response for non-specific individuals. Wadhwa requested a number of items pertaining to Title VII violations that occurred at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, including disciplinary records for several identified individuals. His request was handled by several people in the VA and the agency responded by withholding records under Exemption 6 and Exemption 5 (privileges) as well as issuing Glomar responses for those parts of Wadhwa's request for disciplinary records. While he challenged the agency's search, the court noted that "he objects to the reasons the documents were withheld, a matter wholly separate from whether or not the FOIA officers conducted an adequate and reasonable search." The bulk of the exemption claims related to the agency's decision to withhold the 827-page file of discrimination complaints. But the court pointed out that "without more information that reasonably describes the contents of the 827 pages, the Court cannot say as a matter of law that withholding the documents was appropriate under Exemption 6. For this same reason, the Court similarly cannot determine whether the Department properly withheld documents under Exemption 5." The court agreed with the use of a Glomar response for requests for disciplinary records on named individuals. The court observed that "if the Department were to confirm the existence of responsive documents, it necessarily reveals that the individuals have been the subject of disciplinary proceedings." But as to Wadhwa's more generic requests for disciplinary-related information, the court indicated that "Plaintiff is not seeking records for a named individual but rather is seeking records for any individual. Although the Court can imagine that such records would contain personally identifiable information exempt under at least one FOIA exemption, it is unclear why, as the Department argues, confirming or denying the existence of documents responsive to the 'removal or proposed removal, or any other incident/disciplinary action cited as Title VII violation of any employee. . .would cause harm to a named individual when Plaintiff does not name any individual in [his request]. Even if a Glomar response is appropriate, or if a FOIA exception otherwise applies, the Department has not met its burden in demonstrating as much to the Court."
Issues: Determination - Glomar response, Exemption 6 - Invasion of privacy
Opinion/Order [13]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in New Jersey has ruled that Dom Wadhwa is entitled to discovery in his case against the Department of Veterans Affairs because the agency has failed to explain the basis for several of its exemption claims. Wadhwa, a physician formerly employed by the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, made a series of FOIA requests for records concerning the decision made by the Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint Adjudication in an employment discrimination violation. The agency sought clarification from Wadhwa on several items in his multi-part request and eventually withheld a number of records under Exemption 5 (privileges) and Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), including issuing a Glomar response neither confirming nor denying the existence of records based on personal privacy. Awarding discovery, the court noted that even though it ordered the agency to provide further explanations for some of its withholding decisions, it had not done so. The court observed that "because Defendant has not produced any additional explanations as to why Items 1-4, 9, and 12 should not be produced, the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery."
Issues: Litigation - Discovery
Opinion/Order [37]
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2015-04-201COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ( Filing and Admin fee $ 400 receipt number CAM5680) with JURY DEMAND, filed by DOM WADHWA, MD. (Attachments: # 1 Letter Re: Summons, # 2 Appendix, # 3 Notice to Receive NEF, # 4 Civil Cover Sheet, # 5 Cover Letter, # 6 Envelope)(nz, ) (Entered: 04/21/2015)
2015-04-202SUMMONS ISSUED as to DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES. Attached is the official court Summons, please fill out Defendant and Plaintiffs attorney information and serve. Issued By *Nicholas Zotti* (nz, ) (Entered: 04/21/2015)
2015-05-043SUPPLEMENT TO INITIAL BRIEF 1 by DOM WADHWA, MD. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit (Doc. #1))(tf, ) (Entered: 05/04/2015)
2015-05-044SUMMONS Returned Executed by DOM WADHWA, MD. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS served on 4/25/2015, answer due 5/18/2015. (tf, ) (Entered: 05/04/2015)
2015-05-215Application and Proposed Order for Clerk's Order to extend time to answer as to Secretary, Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Attorney DANIEL J. GIBBONS for DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS added. (GIBBONS, DANIEL) (Entered: 05/21/2015)
2015-05-26Clerk's Text Order - The document 5 Application for Clerk's Order to Ext Answer/Proposed Order submitted by DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS has been GRANTED. The answer due date has been set for 7/6/2015. (dmr) (Entered: 05/26/2015)
2015-07-066MOTION for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS. Responses due by 7/20/2015 (Attachments: # 1 Brief in support of motion for summary judgment, # 2 Declaration of Jeffery Adamson, # 3 Declaration of Lauren Russo, # 4 Declaration of Laurie Karnay, # 5 Statement of undisputed facts, # 6 Text of Proposed Order)(GIBBONS, DANIEL) (Entered: 07/06/2015)
2015-07-07Set/Reset Deadlines as to 6 MOTION for Summary Judgment. Motion set for 8/3/2015 before Judge Robert B. Kugler. The motion will be decided on the papers. No appearances required unless notified by the court. (dmr) (Entered: 07/07/2015)
2015-07-277MOTION for Oral Argument and Brief to Deny the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment by DOM WADHWA, MD. (dmr) (Entered: 07/29/2015)
2015-07-27Set/Reset Deadlines as to 7 MOTION for Oral Argument and Brief to Deny the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Motion set for 9/8/2015 before Judge Robert B. Kugler. The motion will be decided on the papers. No appearances required unless notified by the court. (dmr) (Entered: 07/29/2015)
2015-08-058REPLY BRIEF to Opposition to Motion filed by DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS re 6 MOTION for Summary Judgment (Attachments: # 1 Certification of Service)(GIBBONS, DANIEL) (Entered: 08/05/2015)
2015-10-029MOTION for Oral Argument, Motion to Compel Discovery, and Motion to Deny Summary Judgment by DOM WADHWA, MD. (Attachments: # 1 Verification of Service, # 2 Cover Letter)(dmr) (Entered: 10/06/2015)
2015-10-06Set/Reset Deadlines as to 9 MOTION for Oral Argument, Motion to Compel Discovery, and Motion to Deny Summary Judgment. Motion set for 11/2/2015 before Judge Robert B. Kugler. The motion will be decided on the papers. No appearances required unless notified by the court. (dmr) (Entered: 10/06/2015)
2016-03-1110OPINION. Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 3/11/2016. (tf, ) (Entered: 03/11/2016)
2016-03-1111ORDER granting in part and denying in part without prejudice 6 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying without prejudice Plaintiff's motion for oral argument and to compel discovery 7 & 9 . Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 3/11/2016. (tf, ) (Entered: 03/11/2016)
2016-03-2412MOTION to Compel Discovery on the Agency Officials at PVAMC by DOM WADHWA, MD. (dmr) (Entered: 03/24/2016)
2016-03-24Set/Reset Deadlines as to 12 MOTION to Compel. Motion set for 4/18/2016 before Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams. Unless otherwise directed by the Court, this motion will be decided on the papers and no appearances are required. Note that this is an automatically generated message from the Clerk`s Office and does not supersede any previous or subsequent orders from the Court. (dmr) (Entered: 03/24/2016)
2016-03-24Set/Reset Deadlines as to 12 MOTION to Compel. Motion set for 4/18/2016 before Judge Robert B. Kugler. Unless otherwise directed by the Court, this motion will be decided on the papers and no appearances are required. Note that this is an automatically generated message from the Clerk`s Office and does not supersede any previous or subsequent orders from the Court. (dmr) (Entered: 03/24/2016)
2016-11-2213***VACATED***OPINION. Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 11/22/2016. (tf, ) Modified on 3/23/2017 (tf, ). (Entered: 11/22/2016)
2016-11-2214***VACATED***ORDER that Plaintiff's 12 Motion to Compel Discovery is GRANTED as to Items 1-4, 9, and 12; Plaintiff's Motion to Deny Resubmission of Summary Judgment is DENIED AS MOOT; Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED. Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 11/22/2016. (tf, ) Modified on 3/23/2017 (tf, ). (Entered: 11/22/2016)
2016-12-0915TEXT ORDER The Court has scheduled an On the Record In-Person Status Conference for January 13, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. in Courtroom 5C - Camden. Ordered by Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams on 12/9/2016. (Ramos, Nicole) (Entered: 12/09/2016)
2016-12-2916MOTION for postponement of Status Conference re 15 TEXT ORDER by DOM WADHWA, MD. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate of Service)(tf, ) (Entered: 12/29/2016)
2016-12-29Set/Reset Deadlines as to 16 MOTION postponement of Status Conference re 15 TEXT ORDER. Motion set for 2/6/2017 before Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams. Unless otherwise directed by the Court, this motion will be decided on the papers and no appearances are required. Note that this is an automatically generated message from the Clerk`s Office and does not supersede any previous or subsequent orders from the Court. (tf, ) (Entered: 12/29/2016)
2016-12-2917MOTION for Judgment by Default as to 14 Order by DOM WADHWA, MD. (tf, ) (Entered: 12/29/2016)
2016-12-29Set/Reset Deadlines as to 17 MOTION for Judgment by Default as to 14 ORDER. Motion set for 2/6/2017 before Judge Robert B. Kugler. Unless otherwise directed by the Court, this motion will be decided on the papers and no appearances are required. Note that this is an automatically generated message from the Clerk`s Office and does not supersede any previous or subsequent orders from the Court. (tf, ) (Entered: 12/29/2016)
2017-01-0318TEXT ORDER Upon letter application dated December 29, 2016, the Court hereby GRANTS the request to reschedule the On the Record In-Person Status Conference previously set for January 13, 2017. The new date and time of the On the Record In-Person Status Conference is January 19, 2017 at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 5C - Camden. Ordered by Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams on 1/3/17. (Ramos, Nicole) (Entered: 01/03/2017)
2017-01-0319NOTICE of Appearance by ANTHONY J. LABRUNA, JR on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (LABRUNA, ANTHONY) (Entered: 01/03/2017)
2017-01-1320Supplement Brief for Motion to Compel Discovery In Response to Court's Order dated 11/22/16 filed by DOM WADHWA, M.D.. (dmr) (Entered: 01/13/2017)
2017-01-1321Letter re 20 Brief. (LABRUNA, ANTHONY) (Entered: 01/13/2017)
2017-01-1923Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams: In-Person Initial Conference held on 1/19/2017. Order to be entered. (Court Reporter/Recorder ECR.) (dmr) (Entered: 01/20/2017)
2017-01-2022SCHEDULING ORDER: Deft is to file a motion for summary judgment on or before 2/10/2017 with opposition to the motion due by 2/21/2017 and replies due by 2/21/2017. Signed by Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams on 1/20/2017. (dmr) (Entered: 01/20/2017)
2017-01-2024MOTION for Judgment by Default and Motion to Deny Summary Judgment in Response to Agency Counsel's Letter dated 1/13/2017 by DOM WADHWA, MD. (dmr) (Entered: 01/20/2017)
2017-01-20Set/Reset Deadlines as to 24 MOTION for Judgment by Default and Motion to Deny Summary Judgment in Response to Agency Counsel's Letter dated 1/13/2017. Motion set for 2/21/2017 before Judge Robert B. Kugler. Unless otherwise directed by the Court, this motion will be decided on the papers and no appearances are required. Note that this is an automatically generated message from the Clerk`s Office and does not supersede any previous or subsequent orders from the Court. (dmr) (Entered: 01/20/2017)
2017-01-2325Exhibit B to 24 Motion for Default Judgment by DOM WADHWA, MD. (tf, ) (Entered: 01/23/2017)
2017-02-0826MOTION for Summary Judgment and to Vacate Order Compelling Discovery by DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS. Responses due by 2/24/2017 (Attachments: # 1 Brief, # 2 Text of Proposed Order, # 3 Declaration of Nigel Collie, # 4 Exhibit 1 to Declaration of Nigel Collie, # 5 Exhibit 2 to Declaration of Nigel Collie, # 6 Declaration of James Killens, # 7 Attachment to Declaration of James Killens, # 8 Declaration of Lauren Russo, # 9 Supplemental Declaration of Lauren Russo)(LABRUNA, ANTHONY) (Entered: 02/08/2017)
2017-02-0827CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS re 26 MOTION for Summary Judgment and to Vacate Order Compelling Discovery (LABRUNA, ANTHONY) (Entered: 02/08/2017)
2017-02-09Set/Reset Deadlines as to 26 MOTION for Summary Judgment and to Vacate Order Compelling Discovery . Motion set for 3/6/2017 before Judge Robert B. Kugler. Unless otherwise directed by the Court, this motion will be decided on the papers and no appearances are required. Note that this is an automatically generated message from the Clerk`s Office and does not supersede any previous or subsequent orders from the Court. (dmr) (Entered: 02/09/2017)
2017-02-1628MOTION to Impose Sanctions by DOM WADHWA, MD. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibits A-K3, # 2 Cover Letter)(dmr) (Entered: 02/16/2017)
2017-02-16Set/Reset Deadlines as to 28 MOTION to Impose Sanctions. Motion set for 3/20/2017 before Judge Robert B. Kugler. Unless otherwise directed by the Court, this motion will be decided on the papers and no appearances are required. Note that this is an automatically generated message from the Clerk`s Office and does not supersede any previous or subsequent orders from the Court. (dmr) (Entered: 02/16/2017)
2017-02-2329REPLY to Response to Motion filed by DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS re 28 MOTION for Sanctions, 26 MOTION for Summary Judgment and to Vacate Order Compelling Discovery (LABRUNA, ANTHONY) (Entered: 02/23/2017)
2017-02-2730CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS re 29 Reply to Response to Motion (LABRUNA, ANTHONY) (Entered: 02/27/2017)
2017-02-2731TEXT ORDER Setting Hearing on 26 MOTION for Summary Judgment and to Vacate Order Compelling Discovery , 17 MOTION for Default Judgment, 28 MOTION for Sanctions, and 24 MOTION for Default Judgment: Motion hearing set for 3/22/2017 at 10:30 AM in Camden - Courtroom 4D before Judge Robert B. Kugler.SO ORDERED by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 2/27/2017. (lm) (Entered: 02/27/2017)
2017-03-0932MOTION to Impose Sanctions by DOM WADHWA, MD. (dmr) (Entered: 03/09/2017)
2017-03-09Set/Reset Deadlines as to 32 MOTION to Impose Sanctions. Motion set for 4/3/2017 before Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams. Unless otherwise directed by the Court, this motion will be decided on the papers and no appearances are required. Note that this is an automatically generated message from the Clerk`s Office and does not supersede any previous or subsequent orders from the Court. (dmr) (Entered: 03/09/2017)
2017-03-1033Letter from Anthony J. LaBruna re 32 MOTION for Sanctions. (LABRUNA, ANTHONY) (Entered: 03/10/2017)
2017-03-1034CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS re 33 Letter (LABRUNA, ANTHONY) (Entered: 03/10/2017)
2017-03-1535TEXT ORDER Setting Hearing on 32 MOTION for Sanctions: Motion hearing set for 3/22/2017 at 10:30 AM in Camden - Courtroom 4D before Judge Robert B. Kugler.SO ORDERED by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 3/15/2017. (lm) (Entered: 03/15/2017)
2017-03-2236Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Robert B. Kugler: Motion Hearing held on 3/22/2017 re 17 and 24 Motions for Default Judgment; 26 Motion for Summary Judgment; and 28 and 32 Motion for Sanctions. Ordered 17 motion for default judgment denied. Ordered 19 motion for default judgment denied. Ordered 26 motion for summary judgment granted. Ordered 28 motion for sanctions denied. Ordered 32 motion for sanctions denied. Order to issue. (Court Reporter/Recorder Carl Nami, Jr..) (dmr) (Entered: 03/22/2017)
2017-03-2337ORDER that Plaintiff's [17,24,28,32] Motion for Judgment by Default, Motion for Judgment by Default and Motion to Deny Summary Judgment, and Motion(s) to Impose Sanctions are DENIED. ORDER that this Court's November 22, 2016 Opinion and Order (Doc Nos. 13, 14) are VACATED. Defendant's 26 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Clerk of Court shall CLOSE THIS CASE. Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 3/22/2017. (tf, ) (Entered: 03/23/2017)
2017-03-23***Civil Case Terminated. (tf, ) (Entered: 03/23/2017)
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by FOIA Project Staff