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Case TitlePULLIAM v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY et al
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2015cv01405
Date Filed2015-08-28
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Amy Berman Jackson
PlaintiffRAYMOND C. PULLIAM
Case DescriptionRaymond Pulliam submitted FOIA requests to the EPA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice, for records concerning toxic contamination at the former Fort McClellan Army Base. All three agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests. Neither the EPA nor the Department of Defense had responded by the time Pulliam filed suit. The Justice Department told Pulliam it had no records. Pulliam appealed that decision, which was affirmed by the Office of Information Policy. Pulliam filed suit against all three agencies.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
DefendantUNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
DefendantUNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Opinion/Order [22]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ruled that the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the EPA have failed to show that they conducted an adequate search for records of an investigation of toxic contamination at former Army base Fort McClellan. Raymond Pulliam's request to DOD asked for all correspondence related to the toxic contamination at Fort McClellan. After DOD told Pulliam his request was too broad, he narrowed the request to ask for "all correspondence to, from or carbon copied to Elizabeth King and Mary McVeigh." The agency interpreted the narrowed request to apply to email only. After deciding its first search was insufficient, DOD conducted a second search, which included its Enterprise IT Services Directorate. That search located 57 pages, which were redacted under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and disclosed to Pulliam. Pulliam's requests to the EPA and DOJ asked for investigations of the complaint filed by Heather White against former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and DOJ Senior Counsel William Weinischke. Both agencies searched their Offices of the Inspector General and found no records. Jackson faulted all three searches. She found DOD had improperly narrowed Pulliam's request to emails. She pointed out that "here, nothing in plaintiff's 'narrowed request suggests any intent to restrict the scope of his request' to email only The request contained clear instructions to search for other types of documents and the agency had an obligation 'to construe the FOIA request liberally.' At the very least, the record leaves substantial doubt as to the sufficiency of the search in that certain materials may have been overlooked despite plaintiff's well-defined request." Since Pulliam had not challenged the agency's redactions, Jackson found they were appropriate. The EPA searched the OIG Office of Investigation and its OIG Immediate Office. Jackson indicated that the searches were insufficient, noting that, while the agency searched certain databases, its affidavit "fails to indicate that the searches were conducted for the broader category of records that plaintiff requested. For instance, the declaration does not explain why a search was not conducted in the Inspector General's email or electronic files when the request sought all documentation related to the complaint filed by Heather White. And none of the search terms even included Heather White's name or position." The DOJ's OIG had searched its database using the terms "Todd Whitman" and "William A. Weinischke." Jackson observed that this was insufficient because it would not have picked up variants of the names and "the use of just these two names demonstrates that [the OIG staffer who conducted the search] did not understand the scope of plaintiff's request, which sought all documents relating to the complaint filed by Heather White."
Issues: Adequacy - Search
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2015-08-281COMPLAINT against UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4226385) filed by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 08/28/2015)
2015-08-282REQUEST FOR SUMMONS TO ISSUE by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM filed by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM.(Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 08/28/2015)
2015-08-28Case Assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson. (md) (Entered: 08/31/2015)
2015-08-313SUMMONS (5) Issued Electronically as to UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Notice of Consent) (md) (Entered: 08/31/2015)
2015-10-084NOTICE of Appearance by Rhonda Lisa Campbell on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (Campbell, Rhonda) (Entered: 10/08/2015)
2015-10-145Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint, by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (Campbell, Rhonda) (Entered: 10/14/2015)
2015-10-14MINUTE ORDER granting 5 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer. Defendants shall answer or otherwise respond to the complaint in this case on or before November 17, 2015. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 10/14/2015. (lcabj2) (Entered: 10/14/2015)
2015-10-14Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendants shall Answer or Otherwise Respond to the Complaint by 11/17/2015. (jth) (Entered: 10/14/2015)
2015-11-176ANSWER to Complaint by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY.(Campbell, Rhonda) (Entered: 11/17/2015)
2015-11-187ORDER. Defendants shall file a dispositive motion or, in the alternative, a report setting forth the schedule for the completion of their production of documents to plaintiff on or before December 18, 2015. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 11/18/2015. (lcabj2) (Entered: 11/18/2015)
2015-11-22Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Dispositive Motion or, in the alternative, a report setting forth the schedule according to which it will complete its production of documents to Plaintiffs is due by 12/18/2015. (jth) (Entered: 11/22/2015)
2015-12-148STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. (Campbell, Rhonda) (Entered: 12/14/2015)
2015-12-16MINUTE ORDER. In light of 8 defendants' status report, it is ORDERED that defendant Department of Defense shall complete its search, processing, and release (if appropriate) of responsive documents to plaintiff by February 5, 2016. It is FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall file a joint report by February 12, 2016, advising the Court of the status of the production of documents to plaintiff and informing the Court whether the parties have reached settlement or further litigation is required. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 12/16/2015. (lcabj2) (Entered: 12/16/2015)
2015-12-16Set/Reset Deadlines: The parties shall file a Joint Report by 2/12/2016 advising the Court of the Status of the production of documents to Plaintiff and informing the Court whether the parties have reached settlement or further litigation is required. (jth) (Entered: 12/16/2015)
2016-02-129Consent STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. (Campbell, Rhonda) (Entered: 02/12/2016)
2016-02-12MINUTE ORDER. In light of 9 defendants' status report, it is ORDERED that defendant Department of Defense shall complete its search, processing, and release (if appropriate) of responsive documents to plaintiff by March 18, 2016. It is FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall file a joint report by April 4, 2016, advising the Court of the status of the production of documents to plaintiff and informing the Court whether the parties have reached settlement or further litigation is required. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 2/12/2016. (lcabj2) (Entered: 02/12/2016)
2016-02-12Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report is due by 4/4/2016. (jth) (Entered: 02/12/2016)
2016-04-0410Joint STATUS REPORT & Proposed Briefing Schedule by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 04/04/2016)
2016-04-05MINUTE ORDER. In light of 10 the parties' joint status report, it is ORDERED that defendants' motion for summary judgment shall be due by May 12, 2016; plaintiff's opposition and cross-motion shall be due by June 13, 2016; defendants' reply and cross-opposition shall be due by July 11, 2016; and plaintiff's cross-reply shall be due by July 29, 2016. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 4/5/2016. (lcabj2) (Entered: 04/05/2016)
2016-04-05Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is due by 5/12/2016; Plaintiff's Opposition and Cross-Motion is due by 6/13/2016; Defendants' Reply and Cross-Opposition is due by 7/11/2016; Plaintiff's Cross-Reply is due by 7/29/2016. (jth) (Entered: 04/05/2016)
2016-05-1211MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Declaration Mark H. Herrington, # 4 Exhibit DOD, # 5 Declaration Jeanetta M. Howard, # 6 Exhibit DOJ, # 7 Declaration Scott Levine, # 8 Exhibit EPA)(Campbell, Rhonda) (Entered: 05/12/2016)
2016-05-1312NOTICE of Appearance by C. Peter Sorenson on behalf of RAYMOND C. PULLIAM (Sorenson, C.) (Entered: 05/13/2016)
2016-05-1913ENTERED IN ERROR.....ERRATA ECF No. 11-DoD Exhibit 4 is blank by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 11 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Campbell, Rhonda) Modified on 5/19/2016 (jf). (Entered: 05/19/2016)
2016-05-1914ERRATA ECF No. 11-DoD Exhibit 4 is blank by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 11 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Campbell, Rhonda) (Main Document 14 replaced on 5/19/2016) (jf). (Entered: 05/19/2016)
2016-06-1315Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Declaration of Raymond C. Pulliam & Exhibits A - D, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 06/13/2016)
2016-06-1316Memorandum in opposition to re 11 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Declaration of Raymond Pulliam & Exhibits A - D, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 06/13/2016)
2016-07-1117REPLY to opposition to motion re 11 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Campbell, Rhonda) Modified on 7/12/2016 (jf). (Entered: 07/11/2016)
2016-07-1118Memorandum in opposition to re 15 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. (See Docket Entry 17 to view document) (jf) (Entered: 07/12/2016)
2016-07-2719Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 15 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 07/27/2016)
2016-07-28MINUTE ORDER granting 19 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply. Plaintiff shall have until August 3, 2016, to file his reply in support of his cross-motion for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 7/28/2016. (lcabj2) (Entered: 07/28/2016)
2016-07-28Set/Reset Deadlines: Plaintiff's Reply in support of his Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due by 8/3/2016. (jth) (Entered: 07/28/2016)
2016-08-0320REPLY to opposition to motion re 15 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Second Declaration of Raymond Pulliam & Exhibits E - G, # 2 Declaration of Daniel Stotter)(Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 08/03/2016)
2017-02-1621ORDER. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, and for the reasons stated in the accompanying memorandum opinion, it is hereby ORDERED that 11 defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, and 15 plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment is DENIED AS MOOT. Defendant Department of Defense has justified its withholdings under Exemption 6 and met its segregability requirement with respect to the fifty-seven pages of documents DOD produced to plaintiff. But all of the agencies have failed to prove that their searches were adequate, and so this matter is remanded to the agencies to renew their searches, and either produce any responsive records or justify their withholding. It is FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall file a joint status report by April 17, 2017, to update the Court on whether further proceedings are necessary in this matter. See Order for details. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 2/16/2017. (lcabj2) (Entered: 02/16/2017)
2017-02-1622MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 2/16/2017. (lcabj2) (Entered: 02/16/2017)
2017-02-16Set/Reset Deadlines: The parties shall file a Joint Status Report by 4/17/2017, to update the Court on whether further proceedings are necessary in this matter. (jth) (Entered: 02/16/2017)
2017-04-1523Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File the Parties' Joint Status Report by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (Campbell, Rhonda) (Entered: 04/15/2017)
2017-04-18MINUTE ORDER granting 23 Motion for Extension of Time. The parties shall file a joint status report by April 28, 2017 to update the Court on whether further proceedings are necessary in this matter. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 4/18/2017. (lcabj2) (Entered: 04/18/2017)
2017-04-2624Joint STATUS REPORT & Proposed Briefing Schedule by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM. (Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 04/26/2017)
2017-04-27MINUTE ORDER. In light of 24 the parties' joint status report, it is ORDERED that defendants' motion for summary judgment shall be due by May 26, 2017; plaintiff's opposition and cross-motion shall be due by June 28, 2017; defendants' reply and cross-opposition shall be due by July 28, 2017; and plaintiff's cross-reply shall be due by August 18, 2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 4/27/2017. (lcabj2) (Entered: 04/27/2017)
2017-05-2625MOTION for Summary Judgment Renewed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Declaration Mark Herrington, # 3 Declaration Jeanette Howard, # 4 Declaration Scott Levine)(Campbell, Rhonda) (Entered: 05/26/2017)
2017-06-2826Renewed MOTION for Summary Judgment and Memorandum of Law by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Stotter, Daniel) Modified on 6/29/2017 (td). (Entered: 06/28/2017)
2017-06-2827Memorandum in opposition to re 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment Renewed filed by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 06/28/2017)
2017-07-2828REPLY to opposition re 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment Renewed filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Dept. of Defense, # 2 Declaration Dept. of Justice, # 3 Declaration EPA)(Campbell, Rhonda) Modified on 7/31/2017 to correct docket link (jf). (Entered: 07/28/2017)
2017-08-1829REPLY to opposition to motion re 26 MOTION for Summary Judgment and Memorandum of Law filed by RAYMOND C. PULLIAM. (Stotter, Daniel) (Entered: 08/18/2017)
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