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Case TitleFriends of the River v. United States Army Corps of Engineers et al
DistrictNorthern District of California
CityOakland
Case Number4:2016cv05052
Date Filed2016-09-01
Date Closed2016-11-22
JudgeHon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers
PlaintiffFriends of the River a non-profit corporation
Case DescriptionThe Friends of the River, an organization advocating for preservation of California rivers, submitted a series of FOIA requests to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning the operation and maintenance of Englebright and Daguerre Point dams on the Yuba River. The agency rejected Friends of the River's FOIA requests for a variety of procedural reasons. The organization appealed, but after the agency failed to respond to most of the appeals, the Friends of the River filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Adequacy - Search, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUnited States Army Corps of Engineers
DefendantLt. General Todd T. Semonite as Commanding General of the United States Army Corps of Engineers
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Opinion/Order [21]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in California has ruled that a suit filed by Friends of the River against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for various legal memoranda affecting the Corps' operation and maintenance of two dams on the Yuba River should be transferred to the District of Columbia rather than dismissed as requested by the agency. Although previous requests by Friends of the River for records similar to those in dispute in this action had been located in the District of Columbia, Friends of the River also argued that venue was appropriate at any Corps district office. The court indicated that "little case law exists on this issue of whether the mere possibility that requested documents may be located in a district is sufficient to show proper venue. That which does suggests that venue is not proper." The court pointed out that "here, it is undisputed that a significant portion of the responsive documents are actually located in another district. Moreover, defendant has also provided evidence specifically stating that the responsive documents are, in fact, entirely located in that other district or that "there is no reasonable expectation that relevant agency records are maintained' by the Corps offices located in this District. Plaintiff's claim that venue would be proper in every federal judicial district where a Corps office is located because all offices allegedly received the same legal memorandum that it contends is responsive to one of its FOIA requests is not supported with any legal authority. Nor does the plain language of the FOIA venue statute support such an interpretation." Deciding to transfer the case rather than dismiss it, the court noted that "because Friends of the River is a nonprofit organization with a limited budget, plaintiff argues that re-filing will require it to pay additional fees and costs that would be a burden that could be avoided if the case was transferred rather than dismissed."
Issues: Litigation - Jurisdiction - Venue
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-09-011COMPLAINT against Todd T. Semonite, United States Army Corps of Engineers ( Filing fee $ 400, receipt number 0971-10737163.). Filed byFriends of the River. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(Weisselberg, Patricia) (Filed on 9/1/2016) (Entered: 09/01/2016)
2016-09-012Proposed Summons. (Weisselberg, Patricia) (Filed on 9/1/2016) (Entered: 09/01/2016)
2016-09-013Case assigned to Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore. Counsel for plaintiff or the removing party is responsible for serving the Complaint or Notice of Removal, Summons and the assigned judge's standing orders and all other new case documents upon the opposing parties. For information, visit E-Filing A New Civil Case at http://cand.uscourts.gov/ecf/caseopening. Standing orders can be downloaded from the court's web page at www.cand.uscourts.gov/judges. Upon receipt, the summons will be issued and returned electronically. Counsel is required to send chambers a copy of the initiating documents pursuant to L.R. 5-1(e)(7). A scheduling order will be sent by Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) within two business days. Consent/Declination due by 9/15/2016. (cjlS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/1/2016) (Entered: 09/01/2016)
2016-09-014Initial Case Management Scheduling Order with ADR Deadlines: Case Management Statement due by 11/29/2016. Case Management Conference set for 12/6/2016 01:30 PM in Courtroom 4, 3rd Floor, Oakland. (cjlS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/1/2016) (Entered: 09/01/2016)
2016-09-015Summons Issued as to Todd T. Semonite, United States Army Corps of Engineers. (cjlS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/1/2016) (Entered: 09/01/2016)
2016-09-026CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by Friends of the River (Weisselberg, Patricia) (Filed on 9/2/2016) (Entered: 09/02/2016)
2016-09-067CONSENT/DECLINATION to Proceed Before a US Magistrate Judge by Friends of the River.. (Weisselberg, Patricia) (Filed on 9/6/2016) (Entered: 09/06/2016)
2016-09-078CLERK'S NOTICE OF IMPENDING REASSIGNMENT TO A U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE: The Clerk of this Court will now randomly reassign this case to a District Judge because either (1) a party has not consented to the jurisdiction of a Magistrate Judge, or (2) time is of the essence in deciding a pending judicial action for which the necessary consents to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction have not been secured. You will be informed by separate notice of the district judge to whom this case is reassigned. ALL HEARING DATES PRESENTLY SCHEDULED BEFORE THE CURRENT MAGISTRATE JUDGE ARE VACATED AND SHOULD BE RE-NOTICED FOR HEARING BEFORE THE JUDGE TO WHOM THIS CASE IS REASSIGNED. This is a text only docket entry; there is no document associated with this notice. (cjlS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/7/2016) (Entered: 09/07/2016)
2016-09-079ORDER REASSIGNING CASE. Case reassigned to Judge Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers for all further proceedings. Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore no longer assigned to the case. Signed by the Executive Committee on September 7, 2016. (cjlS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/7/2016) (Entered: 09/07/2016)
2016-09-1410CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by Friends of the River (Weisselberg, Patricia) (Filed on 9/14/2016) (Entered: 09/14/2016)
2016-09-1611CLERK'S NOTICE SETTING CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE. Case Management Statement due by 12/5/2016. Initial Case Management Conference set for Monday, 12/12/2016 02:00 PM before Hon. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Courtroom 1, 4th Floor, Oakland. (Attachments: # 1 Standing Order) (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/16/2016) (Entered: 09/16/2016)
2016-10-0612MOTION to Dismiss or in the alternative, Motion to Transfer filed by Todd T. Semonite, United States Army Corps of Engineers. Motion Hearing set for 11/15/2016 02:00 PM in Courtroom 1, 4th Floor, Oakland before Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. Responses due by 10/20/2016. Replies due by 10/27/2016. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Sara Platt, # 2 Exhibit A-M, # 3 Request for Judicial Notice, # 4 Proposed Order)(Reding, Ann) (Filed on 10/6/2016) Modified on 10/21/2016 (cpS, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 10/06/2016)
2016-10-1113NOTICE of Substitution of Counsel by Julie Bibb Davis (Davis, Julie) (Filed on 10/11/2016) (Entered: 10/11/2016)
2016-10-2014RESPONSE (re 12 MOTION to Dismiss or in the alternative, Motion to Transfer ) filed byFriends of the River. (Attachments: # 1 Weisselberg declaration, # 2 Ex. 1, # 3 Ex. 2, # 4 Ex. 3, # 5 Ex. 4, # 6 Ex. 5, # 7 Ex. 6, # 8 Ex. 7, # 9 Ex. 8, # 10 Ex. 9, # 11 Ex. 10, # 12 Ex. 11, # 13 Ex. 12, # 14 Ex. 13, # 15 Request for Judicial Notice, # 16 Proposed Order)(Weisselberg, Patricia) (Filed on 10/20/2016) Modified on 10/21/2016 (cpS, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 10/20/2016)
2016-10-2115NOTICE of Appearance by Christopher Alan Sproul (Sproul, Christopher) (Filed on 10/21/2016) (Entered: 10/21/2016)
2016-10-2716REPLY (re 12 MOTION to Dismiss or in the alternative, Motion to Transfer ) filed byTodd T. Semonite, United States Army Corps of Engineers. (Davis, Julie) (Filed on 10/27/2016) (Entered: 10/27/2016)
2016-11-1017CLERK'S NOTICE VACATING MOTION HEARING SET TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2016 AT 2:00 PM [RE DKT. NO. 12] (This is a text-only entry generated by the court. There is no document associated with this entry.) (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/10/2016) (Entered: 11/10/2016)
2016-11-1518ADR Certification (ADR L.R. 3-5 b) of discussion of ADR options (Davis, Julie) (Filed on 11/15/2016) (Entered: 11/15/2016)
2016-11-1519ADR Certification (ADR L.R. 3-5 b) of discussion of ADR options (Weisselberg, Patricia) (Filed on 11/15/2016) (Entered: 11/15/2016)
2016-11-1520STIPULATION and Proposed Order selecting Mediation by Todd T. Semonite, United States Army Corps of Engineers filed by Todd T. Semonite, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Friends of the River. (Davis, Julie) (Filed on 11/15/2016) Modified on 11/16/2016 (cpS, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 11/15/2016)
2016-11-2221ORDER by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granting in part 12 Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Transferring for Improper Venue.Clerk of court shall transfer this case to the District of Columbia. (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/22/2016) (Entered: 11/22/2016)
2016-11-23Electronically transferred case to the District of Columbia (cpS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/23/2016) (Entered: 11/23/2016)
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by FOIA Project Staff