Skip to content

Case Detail

[Subscribe to updates]
Case TitleWALSTON v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2015cv02202
Date Filed2015-12-18
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Emmet G. Sullivan
PlaintiffLINDA P. WALSTON
Case DescriptionLinda Walston discovered that her personal computer had been hacked and traced the IP address to the Department of Defense's Network Information Center. She submitted a complaint to DOD's Office of Inspector General and her complaint was referred to the Inspector General at the Defense Information Systems Agency. Walston submitted a FOIA request to DISA for all records related to her complaint. DISA responded to part of her request and Walston filed an appeal as to that decision. After hearing nothing further about the resolution of her appeal, Walston filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
DefendantDEFENSE INFORMATION SYSTEMS AGENCY
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Complaint attachment 5
Opinion/Order [16]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Emmet Sullivan has ruled that the Department of Defense has not shown that it conducted an adequate search for records concerning Linda Walston's request for records concerning whether or not the Defense Information Systems Agency had hacked her computer. Walston discovered her personal computer had been hacked several times between 2010 and 2014. A computer forensics specialist Walston hired to fix her computer suggested to her that DISA might have been responsible for the hacking. As a result, Walston filed a complaint with the Defense Department's Inspector General, alleging that DISA had hacked her computer. She then filed a FOIA request for records concerning the investigation of her complaint. DISA responded with a redacted memo from DISA OIG to DOD OIG concluding Walston's allegations were unfounded and a report providing analysis for that determination. After filing an administrative appeal, Walston filed suit. DISA then disclosed 13 pages of emails among DISA analysts discussing their analyses of her complaint and another 32 pages of administrative documents and documents that Walston had submitted to DISA. Walston claimed the agency had failed to conduct an adequate search. Sullivan indicated that the agency's two affidavits went some way to explain the agency's search, but found they still fell short of what was legally required. He noted that "nowhere does [the agency's affidavit] state that the electronic database, the shared drive, and the investigators' email files constitute the entire universe of files likely to contain responsive materials. The omission of the 'necessary' statement is all the more troubling because it appears that investigative materials in the DISA OIG database might be located in the 'primary location' in Maryland or in the 'decentralized location' in Illinois. . .Without the 'necessary' statement that the entire universe of files likely to contain responsive records was searched, the Court is foreclosed from granting summary judgment as to the adequacy of DISA OIG's search." He also faulted the agency for failing to identify the keywords used in its searches. He noted that "without a complete list of the search terms in response to Ms. Walston's FOIA request, the Court is unable to conclude that DISA OIG's search was adequate." Sullivan agreed with the agency's redactions under Exemption 5 (privileges) and Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). Agreeing that an email was protected by the attorney-client privilege, Sullivan pointed out that "in the email exchange, the analyst asks the attorney a legal question and the attorney responds, in turn, with his legal opinion. The analyst and the attorney intended to communicate in confidence."
Issues: Adequacy - Search
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2015-12-181COMPLAINT against UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4354571) filed by LINDA P. WALSTON. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons Summons to AG, # 3 Summons Summons to DOD, # 4 Summons Summons to USA, # 5 Summons Summons to DISA)(Koppel, Rosa) (Entered: 12/18/2015)
2015-12-18Case Assigned to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. (md) (Entered: 12/18/2015)
2015-12-282SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Notice of Consent) (md) (Entered: 12/28/2015)
2016-02-053RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. LINDA UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE served on 2/1/2016 (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Proof of delivery to agency)(Koppel, Rosa) (Main Document 3 replaced on 2/8/2016) (jf). (Entered: 02/05/2016)
2016-02-054RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 2/2/2016. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Proof of delivery to AG)(Koppel, Rosa) (Main Document 4 replaced on 2/8/2016) (jf). (Entered: 02/05/2016)
2016-02-055RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 2/2/2016. Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 3/3/2016. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit USA proof of delivery)(Koppel, Rosa) (Main Document 5 replaced on 2/8/2016) (jf). (Entered: 02/05/2016)
2016-03-026NOTICE of Appearance by Benton Gregory Peterson on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 03/02/2016)
2016-03-027Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 03/02/2016)
2016-03-04MINUTE ORDER granting 7 defendant's consent motion for extension of time. Defendant shall file an answer or otherwise respond to plaintiff's complaint by no later than April 4, 2016. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on March 4, 2016. (lcegs3) (Entered: 03/04/2016)
2016-03-07Set/Reset Deadlines: Answer due by 4/4/2016. (mac) (Entered: 03/07/2016)
2016-04-048Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 04/04/2016)
2016-04-05MINUTE ORDER granting 8 defendant's unopposed motion for extension of time. The defendant shall file an answer, or otherwise respond to plaintiff's complaint, by no later than April 13, 2016. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on April 5, 2016. (lcegs3) (Entered: 04/05/2016)
2016-04-06Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant Answer due by 4/13/2016. (mac) (Entered: 04/06/2016)
2016-04-139ANSWER to Complaint by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE.(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 04/13/2016)
2016-04-1410STANDING ORDER. The parties are directed to read this Order in its entirety upon receipt. The parties shall file a proposed schedule for future proceedings by no later than May 2, 2016. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on April 14, 2016. (lcegs3) (Entered: 04/14/2016)
2016-04-14Set/Reset Deadlines: Proposed Schedule For Future Proceedings due by 5/2/2016 (mac) (Entered: 04/14/2016)
2016-05-0211PROPOSED BRIEFING SCHEDULE (Joint) by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 05/02/2016)
2016-05-04MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' joint proposed scheduling order, the parties are directed to comply with the following briefing schedule: defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be filed no later than June 6, 2016. Plaintiff's opposition shall be filed no later than July 11, 2016. If plaintiff chooses to file a cross-motion, it shall be combined with the opposition and filed on the same date. Defendant's reply and, if applicable, combined opposition shall be filed no later than August 11, 2016. Plaintiff's reply, if applicable, shall be filed no later than August 25, 2016. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on May 4, 2016. (lcegs3) (Entered: 05/04/2016)
2016-05-04Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment due by 6/6/2016. Plaintiff's Opposition or if Plaintiff Chooses To File A Cross-Motion due by 7/11/2016. Defendant's Reply and, If Applicable, Combined Opposition due by 8/11/2016. Plaintiff's Reply, If Applicable, due by 8/25/2016. (mac) (Entered: 05/04/2016)
2016-06-0612MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Declaration, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 06/06/2016)
2016-07-1113Memorandum in opposition to re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by LINDA P. WALSTON. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts Statement of Facts, # 2 Exhibit Attachment A to Statement of Facts, # 3 Exhibit Attachment B to Statement of Facts, # 4 Exhibit Attachment C to Statement of Facts, # 5 Exhibit Attachment D to Statement of Facts, # 6 Exhibit Attachment E to Statement of Facts, # 7 Exhibit Attachment F to Statement of Facts, # 8 Exhibit Attachment G to Statement of Facts, # 9 Exhibit Attachment H to Statement of Facts, # 10 Exhibit Attachment I to Statement of Facts, # 11 Exhibit Attachment J to Statement of Facts, # 12 Exhibit Attachment K to Statement of Facts, # 13 Exhibit Attachment L to Statement of Facts, # 14 Text of Proposed Order Proposed Order)(Koppel, Rosa) (Entered: 07/11/2016)
2016-08-1114REPLY to opposition to motion re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts Response to Plaintiff's Statement of Facts, # 2 Declaration Exhibit 1 - 2nd Decl. of Mark H. Herrington)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 08/11/2016)
2017-02-2815ORDER granting in part and denying in part without prejudice 12 DOD's motion for summary judgment. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on 02/28/2017. (lcegs3) (Entered: 02/28/2017)
2017-02-2816MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on 02/28/2017. (lcegs3) (Entered: 02/28/2017)
2017-03-27MINUTE ORDER. In view of this matter being consolidated with Civil Action No. 16-2523 this day, it is ORDERED that the April 14, 2017 deadline for the Department of Defense to file its renewed motion for summary judgment is vacated. It is FURTHER ORDERED that by no later than April 14, 2017, the parties shall file a joint status report with a recommended briefing schedule for summary judgment motions in these consolidated cases. One briefing schedule will be set for these consolidated cases. Accordingly, the parties' proposed briefing schedule shall state the date by which defendants propose to file a consolidated summary judgment motion; the date by which Ms. Walston proposes to file a consolidated opposition and, if applicable, combined cross-motion for summary judgment; the date by which defendants propose to file a consolidated reply and, if applicable, combined opposition; and the date by which Ms. Walston proposes to file a consolidated reply, if applicable. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on 03/27/2017. (lcegs3) (Entered: 03/27/2017)
2017-03-28Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 4/14/2017. (mac) (Entered: 03/28/2017)
2017-03-28MINUTE ORDER. To promote the efficient resolution of these consolidated cases, the Court hereby vacates the portion of its Order of March 27, 2017 directing the parties to file, by no later than April 14, 2017, a joint status report with a recommended briefing schedule. Instead, it is hereby ORDERED that the defendants shall file their consolidated summary judgment motion by no later than May 1, 2017; Ms. Walston shall file her consolidated opposition and, if applicable, cross-motion for summary judgment by no later than May 22, 2017; defendants shall file their consolidated reply and, if applicable, combined opposition by no later than June 1, 2017; and Ms. Walston shall file her consolidated reply, if applicable, by no later than June 20, 2017. It is FURTHER ORDERED that no extensions of time or leave to file excess pages will be granted. The parties are reminded to address each issue separately and succinctly. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on 03/28/2017. (lcegs3) (Entered: 03/28/2017)
2017-05-0117MOTION for Summary Judgment Renewed by DEFENSE INFORMATION SYSTEMS AGENCY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 05/01/2017)
2017-05-1918Memorandum in opposition to re 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment Renewed filed by LINDA P. WALSTON. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Koppel, Rosa) (Entered: 05/19/2017)
2017-06-0119REPLY to opposition to motion re 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment Renewed filed by DEFENSE INFORMATION SYSTEMS AGENCY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. (Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 06/01/2017)
Hide Docket Events
by FOIA Project Staff