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Case TitleSchoeffler v. United States Department of Agriculture
DistrictDistrict of Arizona
CityPhoenix Division
Case Number2:2017cv00055
Date Filed2017-01-06
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge G Murray Snow
PlaintiffFred J Schoeffler a single man
Case DescriptionFred Schoeffler submitted a FOIA request to the U.S Forest Service for voice recordings or written transcripts related to the Yarnell Hill fire and an aerial firefighting study. The agency disclosed a CD containing 584 pages about Schoeffler's firefighting experience, which he believed was not responsive to his request. Schoeffler submitted another FOIA request for records concerning himself and the Yarnell Hill fire. He appealed the agency's response to his first request as well. The agency acknowledged receipt of his appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Schoeffler filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUnited States Department of Agriculture
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Opinion/Order [32]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal judge in Arizona has ruled that the U.S. Forest Service properly responded to Fred J. Schoeffler's requests for records concerning the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire in which 19 firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed. The Forest Service manages an Aerial Firefighting USE and Effectiveness Study to collect data on the best way to use firefighting aircraft during firefighting suppression operations. Although AFUE teams were in the area collecting data during the Yarnell Hill Fire, all others fighting the fire were from the State of Arizona. Schoeffler requested voice recordings that AFUE may have collected. The Forest Service determined that all data collected during the fire had been turned over to the State of Arizona and subsequently made public in an electronic dropbox folder. USFS provided Schoeffler with a link to the dropbox folder. Schoeffler also requested records referring to himself made by agency employees at the Coconino National Forest. The agency located 585 pages of emails and disclosed them to Schoeffler. Schoeffler argued that the agency's search for voice recordings was inadequate because of anecdotal evidence that other records should have existed. However, the court noted that "Mr. Schoeffler has not raised substantial enough issues to question the good faith of the government's search or assertions." Turning to Schoeffler's request for emails referring to him, Schoeffler argued that his request was broader than just emails from employees at the Coconino National Forest. The court found the agency's interpretation of the request to be reasonable. The court pointed out that "although Mr. Schoeffler asserts in his Response that this was intended to request a search of wildland fire employees beyond those at CNF, it was equally reasonable for the USDA to read this as requesting communications between CNF employees and the other listed groups. Under the USDA's interpretation, a search of CNF employees' records would naturally turn up any communications CNF employees had with 'other Federal, State, and/or municipal Wildland Fire personnel and private citizens and/or legal entities.' Even construed as Mr. Schoeffler seeks, the request is overly vague." Because the court found that the agency had improperly limited its search, it declined to grant summary judgment on the adequacy of the email search.
Issues: Adequacy - Search
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2017-01-061COMPLAINT. Filing fee received: $400.00, receipt number 0970-13782483 filed by Fred J Schoeffler. (submitted by Bradley Gardner) (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(REK) (Entered: 01/06/2017)
2017-01-062SUMMONS Submitted by Fred J Schoeffler. (submitted by Bradley Gardner) (REK) (Entered: 01/06/2017)
2017-01-063Filing fee paid, receipt number 0970-13782483. This case has been assigned to the Honorable Eileen S. Willett. All future pleadings or documents should bear the correct case number: CV-17-00055-PHX-ESW. Magistrate Election form attached. (Attachments: # 1 Magistrate Consent Form)(REK) (Entered: 01/06/2017)
2017-01-064Summons Issued as to United States Department of Agriculture (via United States Attorney - District of Arizona). (REK). *** IMPORTANT: When printing the summons, select "Document and stamps" or "Document and comments" for the seal to appear on the document. (Entered: 01/06/2017)
2017-01-095Party Elects Assignment of Case to District Judge Jurisdiction. This is a TEXT ENTRY ONLY. There is no PDF document associated with this entry. (MAP) (Entered: 01/10/2017)
2017-01-106MINUTE ORDER: Pursuant to Local Rule 3.7(b), a request has been received for a random reassignment of this case to a District Judge. FURTHER ORDERED Case reassigned by random draw to Judge G. Murray Snow. All further pleadings/papers should now list the following COMPLETE case number: CV-17-55-PHX-GMS. This is a TEXT ENTRY ONLY. There is no PDF document associated with this entry. (MAP) (Entered: 01/10/2017)
2017-01-117ORDER directing the Clerk of Court to terminate any or all Defendants in this matter, without further notice, that have not been served within the time required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m) on 4/7/2017. Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 1/10/2017. (KFZ) (Entered: 01/11/2017)
2017-01-118SCHEDULING ORDER (FOIA): See attached Order for deadlines and details. FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall serve Defendant with a copy of this Order. Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 1/10/2017. (KFZ) (Entered: 01/11/2017)
2017-01-119*SERVICE EXECUTED re: Summons, Complaint, Consent to Exercise of Jurisdiction by Fred J Schoeffler . United States Attorney, District of Arizona served on 1/09/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Certificate of Service)(Gardner, Bradley) *Modified to correct event on 1/23/2017 (REK). (Entered: 01/11/2017)
2017-01-1310*NOTICE re: of Service of Court's Order 8 by Fred J Schoeffler . (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Gardner, Bradley) *Modified to add document link on 1/17/2017 (REK). (Entered: 01/13/2017)
2017-01-2011*SERVICE EXECUTED re: Summons, Complaint, Consent to Exercise Jurisdiction by Fred J Schoeffler. United States Attorney General served on 1/17/2017. United States Department of Agriculture served on unknown date. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Gardner, Bradley) *Modified to correct event on 1/23/2017 (REK). (Entered: 01/20/2017)
2017-02-0812ANSWER to 1 Complaint by United States Department of Agriculture.(Bullis, Paul) (Entered: 02/08/2017)
2017-04-0613NOTICE of Deposition of Brian Frisby, filed by Fred J Schoeffler. (Gardner, Bradley) (Entered: 04/06/2017)
2017-04-0614NOTICE of Deposition of Duane Tewa, filed by Fred J Schoeffler. (Gardner, Bradley) (Entered: 04/06/2017)
2017-04-0615NOTICE of Deposition of Eric Panebaker, filed by Fred J Schoeffler. (Gardner, Bradley) (Entered: 04/06/2017)
2017-04-0616NOTICE of Deposition of Mike Dudley, filed by Fred J Schoeffler. (Gardner, Bradley) (Entered: 04/06/2017)
2017-04-1017MOTION for Protective Order by United States Department of Agriculture. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Bullis, Paul) (Entered: 04/10/2017)
2017-04-2418* RESPONSE to Motion re: 17 MOTION for Protective Order and MOTION to Modify the Scheduling Order filed by Fred J Schoeffler. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit)(Gardner, Bradley) * Modified to add Motion event on 5/12/2017 (SLQ). (Entered: 04/24/2017)
2017-05-0119REPLY re: 18 Response to Motion for Protective Order and Response to Motion to Modify Scheduling Order by Defendant United States Department of Agriculture. (Bullis, Paul) (Entered: 05/01/2017)
2017-05-1120* REPLY to Response to Motion re: 18 MOTION to Modify Scheduling Order filed by Fred J Schoeffler. (Gardner, Bradley) * Modified to correct document linkage on 5/12/2017 (SLQ). (Entered: 05/11/2017)
2017-05-1721ORDER - Defendant's 17 Motion for Protective Order is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff's 18 Motion to Modify the Scheduling Order is granted in part and denied in part as stated above. Defendant and Plaintiff, if he so chooses, shall have to and including July 5, 2017 in which to file a motion for summary judgment. Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 5/17/2017. (ATD) (Entered: 05/17/2017)
2017-07-0522MOTION for Summary Judgment by United States Department of Agriculture. (Bullis, Paul) (Entered: 07/05/2017)
2017-07-0523STATEMENT OF FACTS re: 22 MOTION for Summary Judgment by Defendant United States Department of Agriculture. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Bullis, Paul) (Entered: 07/05/2017)
2017-08-0324Joint MOTION for Extension of Time Extension of Time to Respond to Defendant's MSJ by Fred J Schoeffler. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order Proposed Order)(Gardner, Bradley) (Entered: 08/03/2017)
2017-08-0325ORDER granting 24 Stipulation to Extend Time: Plaintiff shall have to and including 8/25/2017 in which to file his response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment 22 . Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 8/3/2017.(LMR) (Entered: 08/03/2017)
2017-08-2526*STIPULATION to Extend Time for Plaintiff to Respond to 22 Motion for Summary Judgment by Fred J Schoeffler. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Gardner, Bradley) *Modified to correct event on 8/28/2017 (REK). (Entered: 08/25/2017)
2017-08-2827ORDER granting Stipulation to Extend Time 26 : Plaintiff shall have to and including 9/8/2017 in which to file his response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment 22 . No further extensions shall be granted. Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 8/28/2017. (LMR) (Entered: 08/28/2017)
2017-09-0628RESPONSE to Motion re: 22 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Fred J Schoeffler. (Gardner, Bradley) (Entered: 09/06/2017)
2017-09-0629*STATEMENT OF FACTS re: 23 Statement of Facts by Plaintiff Fred J Schoeffler. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit)(Gardner, Bradley) *Modified to add document link on 9/7/2017 (REK). (Entered: 09/06/2017)
2017-09-0630*Amended STATEMENT OF FACTS (Declaration included) re: 23 Statement of Facts by Plaintiff Fred J Schoeffler. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit)(Gardner, Bradley) *Modified text and document link added on 9/7/2017 (REK). (Entered: 09/06/2017)
2017-09-2131* REPLY to Response to Motion re: 22 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by United States Department of Agriculture. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Bullis, Paul) * Modified to indicate document names defendant as the Federal Aviation Administration on 9/22/2017 (LAD). (Entered: 09/21/2017)
2018-03-0732ORDER granting in part and denying in part 22 Motion for Summary Judgment: concerning Request 4232-F, the Court grants Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment; concerning Request 4325-F, the Court grants Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment; concerning Request 4284-F, the Court denies Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment; and concerning Request 5736-F, the Court grants Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 03/07/2018. (KAS) (Entered: 03/07/2018)
2018-03-2633ORDER - Status Conference set for 4/6/2018 at 11:00 AM in Courtroom 602, 401 West Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85003 before Judge G Murray Snow. Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 03/26/2018. (KAS) (Entered: 03/26/2018)
2018-04-0634MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before Judge G Murray Snow: Status Conference held on 4/6/2018. Supplemental searches shall be completed within 30 days and a notice shall be filed so indicating. APPEARANCES: Bradley Gardner for Plaintiff. Paul Bullis for Defendant. (Court Reporter Charlotte Powers.) Hearing held 11:00 AM to 11:02 AM. This is a TEXT ENTRY ONLY. There is no PDF document associated with this entry. (KFZ) (Entered: 04/06/2018)
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by FOIA Project Staff