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Case TitleFRANK LLP v. CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2016cv02105
Date Filed2016-10-21
Date Closed2018-09-05
JudgeJudge Dabney L. Friedrich
PlaintiffFRANK LLP
Case DescriptionFrank LLP, a New York law firm, submitted a FOIA request to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for records concerning a consent order from the agency pertaining to wrongful debt-collection practices. The agency initially denied the request under Exemption 4 (confidential business information). Frank LLP filed an administrative appeal and its request was remanded for further processing. The agency then denied all the record under Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques). Frank LLP filed another administrative appeal. This time the agency upheld the Exemption 7(E) claim and further indicated the records were protected by Exemption 7(A) (interference with ongoing investigation or proceeding). Frank LLP then filed suit.
Complaint issues: Litigation - Attorney's fees, Litigation - In camera review, Litigation - Vaughn index

DefendantCONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Complaint attachment 5
Complaint attachment 6
Complaint attachment 7
Complaint attachment 8
Complaint attachment 9
Complaint attachment 10
Complaint attachment 11
Complaint attachment 12
Complaint attachment 13
Opinion/Order [24]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Dabney Friedrich has ruled that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau properly invoked Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods or techniques) to withhold information about its interview questions. Frank LLP, a law firm suing Portfolio Recovery Associates, requested records concerning a CFPB enforcement action against PRA that resulted in a consent order. Frank contended that the techniques and procedures used in interviewing professional affiants could not have included techniques unknown to the public. Friedrich, however, pointed out that two recent district court decisions " Barouch v. Dept of Justice 87 F. Supp. 3d 30 (D.D.C. 2015) and Rosenberg v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 13 F. Supp. 3d 92 (D.D.C. 2014) " held that questions asked by ATF and FBI agents constituted investigative techniques under Exemption 7(E). Friedrich observed that "the redacted materials 'contain the specific questions asked by the Bureau investigators of two PRA affiants' including the specific information and types of information sought, the manner of questioning, the sequencing of questioning, and the manner and sequencing of follow-up questions on specific items of interest'. . ." Frank tried to distinguish Rosenberg by arguing that in that case the withheld questions included potential questions as well as the questions actually asked. Friedrich was unconvinced that was much of a distinction, noting that "it is not clear which way that cuts " the fact that the transcripts here contain actual instead of potential questions may actually reveal more about what the CFPB ultimately considers important. And second, even assuming this fact cuts in Frank's favor, the difference is only in the quantity " not the quality"of information disclosed: even if only some rather than all potential avenues of CFPB investigative questioning are revealed, they still reveal 'what the [CFPB] deems relevant to investigations.'" Friedrich pointed out that the threshold for inclusion under Exemption 7(E) was not particularly high and that the agency had cleared this "relatively low bar."
Issues: Exemption 7(E) - Unknown to public
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-10-211COMPLAINT against CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4717375) filed by FRANK LLP. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B, # 3 Exhibit C, # 4 Exhibit D, # 5 Exhibit E, # 6 Exhibit F, # 7 Exhibit G, # 8 Exhibit H, # 9 Exhibit I, # 10 Civil Cover Sheet, # 11 Summons CFPB, # 12 Summons US AG, # 13 Summons US Atty-DC)(Frank, Gregory) (Entered: 10/21/2016)
2016-10-212Corporate Disclosure Statement by FRANK LLP. (Frank, Gregory) (Entered: 10/21/2016)
2016-10-24Case Assigned to Judge Richard J. Leon. (sb) (Entered: 10/24/2016)
2016-10-243SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachment: # 1 Consent Form)(sb) (Entered: 10/24/2016)
2016-11-044NOTICE of Filing of Proof of Service by FRANK LLP (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit s of Process Server Brittney Drum, # 2 Exhibit Reflecting Certified Mailings per FRCP 4(i))(Frank, Gregory) (Entered: 11/04/2016)
2016-11-045RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 10/25/2016. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 11/24/2016.), RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU served on 10/31/2016, RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 10/25/16. (See Docket Entry 4 to view document). (znmw) (Entered: 11/07/2016)
2016-11-236ANSWER to Complaint by CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU.(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 11/23/2016)
2016-11-287STANDING ORDER. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 11/28/16. (lcrjl1) (Entered: 11/28/2016)
2017-01-068Joint STATUS REPORT pursuant to this Court's Nov. 28, 2016 Order by FRANK LLP. (Frank, Gregory) (Entered: 01/06/2017)
2017-01-09MINUTE SCHEDULING ORDER: Upon consideration of the parties' Joint Status Report 8 , it is hereby ORDERED that the following schedule is ADOPTED: (1) Defendant shall file its motion for summary judgment on or before 04/03/17; (2) Plaintiff shall file its opposition on or before 05/10/17; (3) Defendant shall file its reply on or before 05/29/17. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 01/09/17. (lcrjl1) (Entered: 01/09/2017)
2017-01-17Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is due by 4/3/17; Plaintiff's Opposition is due by 5/10/17; Defendant's reply is due by 5/29/17. (jth) (Entered: 01/17/2017)
2017-03-319Joint MOTION to Stay by CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 03/31/2017)
2017-04-10MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the parties' Joint Motion to Stay Briefing Schedule 9 , it is hereby ORDERED that the briefing schedule set in the Court's 01/09/17 Minute Scheduling Order is VACATED, and the parties are ORDERED to file a joint status report on or before 04/20/17. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 04/10/17. (lcrjl1) (Entered: 04/10/2017)
2017-04-10Set/Reset Deadlines: The parties are to file a Joint Status Report on or before 4/20/17. (jth) (Entered: 04/10/2017)
2017-04-2010Joint MOTION to Stay by FRANK LLP (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Frank, Gregory) (Entered: 04/20/2017)
2017-04-2011JOINT STATUS REPORT by CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU, FRANK LLP. (See Docket Entry 10 to view document). (znmw) (Entered: 04/21/2017)
2017-04-24MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the parties' Joint Status Report and Motion to Extend the Stay 10 , it is hereby ORDERED that the parties will file a joint status report on or before 6/6/2017. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 04/24/17. (lcrjl1) (Entered: 04/24/2017)
2017-06-0212NOTICE of Change of Address by Gregory A. Frank (Frank, Gregory) (Entered: 06/02/2017)
2017-06-0513Joint MOTION to Stay Briefing Schedule by CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, Benton) Modified event title on 6/6/2017 (znmw). (Entered: 06/05/2017)
2017-06-12MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the parties' Joint Status Report and Motion to Extend the Stay 13 , it is hereby ORDERED that the parties will file a joint status report on or before 06/27/2017. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 06/12/17. (lcrjl1) (Entered: 06/12/2017)
2017-06-12Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 6/27/2017. (tb) (Entered: 06/12/2017)
2017-06-2714Joint STATUS REPORT and Proposed Briefing Schedule by FRANK LLP. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Frank, Gregory) (Entered: 06/27/2017)
2017-07-0315ORDER. Upon consideration of the 14 Status Report submitted by the Parties, and the entire record herein, it is ORDERED that, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is due by 8/15/2017; Plaintiff's Response is due by 9/19/2017; and Defendants' Reply is due by 10/5/2017. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 7/1/2017. (jth) (Entered: 07/03/2017)
2017-08-1516MOTION for Summary Judgment by CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Declaration, # 3 Declaration, # 4 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 08/15/2017)
2017-08-1517MOTION for Leave to File an Ex Parte and In Camera Declartion by CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 08/15/2017)
2017-08-28MINUTE ORDER granting 17 Defendant's Motion for Leave to File an Ex Parte and In Camera Declaration. It is hereby ORDERED that the motion is granted. It is further ORDERED that an unredacted version of the Cara Petersen declaration [16-2] be submitted directly to judge's chambers on or before September 8, 2017. The Defendant shall file notice of compliance with this order on the docket. Signed by Judge Richard J. Leon on 08/28/2017. (lcrjl1) (Entered: 08/28/2017)
2017-08-31Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's unredacted version of the Cara Petersen declaration [16-2] shall be submitted directly to judge's chambers on or before 9/8/2017. (jth) (Entered: 08/31/2017)
2017-09-0718NOTICE of Filing Ex Parte In Camera Document by CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU re 16 MOTION for Summary Judgment (Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 09/07/2017)
2017-09-1919Memorandum in opposition to re 16 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by FRANK LLP. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts pursuant to Local Rule 7(h), # 2 Declaration of Gregory A. Frank, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Frank, Gregory) (Entered: 09/19/2017)
2017-09-1920Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by FRANK LLP (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts pursuant to Local Rule 7(h), # 2 Declaration of Gregory A. Frank, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Frank, Gregory) (Entered: 09/19/2017)
2017-10-0521Memorandum in opposition to re 20 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 10/05/2017)
2017-10-0522REPLY to opposition to motion re 20 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts)(Peterson, Benton) (Entered: 10/05/2017)
2017-12-04Case directly reassigned to Judge Dabney L. Friedrich. Judge Richard J. Leon is no longer assigned to the case. (ztnr) (Entered: 12/04/2017)
2018-09-0423ORDER granting 16 defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 20 plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. See order for details. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on September 4, 2018. (lcdlf1) (Entered: 09/04/2018)
2018-09-0424MEMORANDUM OPINION regarding 16 defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and 20 plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. See order for details. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on September 4, 2018. (lcdlf1) (Entered: 09/04/2018)
2018-09-04MINUTE ORDER directing the Clerk of Court to close the case. (lcdlf1) (Entered: 09/04/2018)
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by FOIA Project Staff
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