Skip to content

Case Detail

[Subscribe to updates]
Case TitleJames v. United States Department of Defense et al
DistrictDistrict of Alaska
CityAnchorage
Case Number3:2018cv00028
Date Filed2018-01-30
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJohn W. Sedwick
PlaintiffDayle James as Personal Representative of the Estate of Charlie Thomas James, Jr.
Case DescriptionDayle James, the representative of Charlie James who had died as the result of an accident involving an Army "Stryker" vehicle, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Army for records concerning the transportation of the "Stryker" vehicle. The agency responded to James' request. As a result of the records he received, James submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning the investigation of the accident that killed Charlie James. The agency told James he would have to commit to paying fees for the records. The agency then told James that his request was being transferred to U.S. Pacific Command office in Anchorage. After hearing nothing further from the agency, James filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUnited States Department of Defense
DefendantU.S. Army
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
Opinion/Order [22]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in Alaska has ruled that the U.S. Army must disclose the identities of individuals who witnessed an accident that took place while trying to load an Army Stryker vehicle on a rail car when the brakes failed, resulting in the death of Charlie James. His brother Dayle James brought suit against General Dynamics Land Systems for wrongful death. His attorney made two requests to the Army " one for the identity of other witnesses in case they needed to be deposed in the wrongful death suit, and another for records concerning the inspection of the Stryker. The Army withheld the identities under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and several email chains concerning the investigation under Exemption 5 (privileges). James sued and the Army argued that if the witnesses were deposed as a result of being identified, that would constitute an inappropriate embarrassment and harassment of the individuals. The court rejected that argument, noting that "speaking to a witness or even taking a witness deposition certainly does not constitute an intrusion 'long deemed impermissible under the common law and in our cultural traditions.' Of course, providing the names and locations does mean the individuals lose total control of their privacy, but in a context wherein the individuals may have information relating to the death of another individual the intrusion does not rise to such a level that the names and locations must be kept secret. This is especially so, because the individuals may have information tending to show that the Army is responsible for the death. Defendant also suggests that giving information about a wrongful death would embarrass, shame or stigmatize a witness in the circumstances here. A better description of the impact on the individuals is that disclosure would inconvenience them." The agency also argued that the privacy interests of lower level employees normally were heightened because they were less likely to be in positions of responsibility. The court agreed in principle, but noted that "in the case at bar, there are no higher-level persons who would have the relevant information." Addressing the privileged status of the emails, the court explained that James had challenged the lack of a sufficient explanation for why the redacted portions were protected by the deliberative process privilege. Finding that the agency had now provided an affidavit justifying why the information was privileged, the court accepted the agency's claims.
Issues: Exemption 6 - Invasion of privacy
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2018-01-301COMPLAINT for Injunctive Relief against U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense (Filing fee $400/receipt #ANC014084), filed by Dayle James. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2, # 3 Exhibit 3, # 4 Exhibit 4, # 5 Exhibit 5, # 6 Exhibit 6, # 7 Exhibit 7, # 8 Exhibit 8, # 9 Exhibit 9, # 10 Exhibit 10, # 11 Exhibit 11, # 12 Exhibit 12)(PXS, COURT STAFF) (Entered: 01/31/2018)
2018-01-302Civil Cover Sheet. (PXS, COURT STAFF) (Entered: 01/31/2018)
2018-01-303Unissued summons re Defendant United States Department of Defense, (Attachments: # 1 United States Department of Defense through U.S. Attorney, # 2 U.S. Army, # 3 U.S. Army through U.S. Attorney)(PXS, COURT STAFF) (Entered: 01/31/2018)
2018-01-31Summons Issued as to U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense, U.S. Attorney. (PXS, COURT STAFF) (Entered: 01/31/2018)
2018-02-234MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint, (Unopposed) by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 02/23/2018)
2018-03-015ORDER granting 4 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer. Defendants' answer to the complaint is due on or before April 2, 2018. Signed by Judge John W. Sedwick on 3/1/18. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF) (Entered: 03/01/2018)
2018-04-026Second MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint, (Unopposed) by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 04/02/2018)
2018-04-047ORDER granting 6 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer. All Defendants to answer complaint 4/16/18. Signed by Judge John W. Sedwick on 4/4/18. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF) (Entered: 04/04/2018)
2018-04-168ANSWER to 1 Complaint, by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order A- EMAIL FOIA REQUEST (UNCLASSIFIED), # 2 Exhibit B- response to request for reconsideration email)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 04/16/2018)
2018-04-189INITIAL CASE STATUS REPORT/CASE SCHEDULING AND PLANNING ORDER: Counsel for plaintiff shall serve and file the Rule 26 Meeting Report within 28 days of service of this order. (BJK, COURT STAFF) (Entered: 04/18/2018)
2018-05-1610Joint STIPULATION for Extension of Time Regarding Initial Case Status Report (Dkt. 9) by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 05/16/2018)
2018-05-1711ORDER granting 10 Stipulation. The parties shall file a joint status report by May 30, 2018. Signed by Judge John W. Sedwick on 5/17/18. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF) (Entered: 05/17/2018)
2018-05-3012MOTION for Summary Judgment in FOIA case by Dayle James. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 3/7/17 FOIA request, # 2 Exhibit 4/6/17 FOIA response, # 3 Exhibit 5/23/17 FOIA Request, # 4 Exhibit 6/14/17 FOIA Response, # 5 Exhibit 7/28/17 FOIA Request, # 6 Exhibit 7/28/17 FOIA Response, # 7 Exhibit 1/02/18 FOIA Request, # 8 Exhibit 4/2/18 FOIA Response, # 9 Exhibit Witness Statements, # 10 Exhibit Investigative Report and docs, # 11 Exhibit Request for Reconsideration of Exemptions, # 12 Exhibit Army response to request for reconsideration, # 13 Proposed Order Proposed Order granting SJ)(Flanigan, Michael) (Entered: 05/30/2018)
2018-06-2013MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment in FOIA case (Unopposed) by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 06/20/2018)
2018-06-2014DECLARATION of Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara T. Gray re 13 MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment in FOIA case (Unopposed) by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Gray, Sara) (Entered: 06/20/2018)
2018-06-2615ORDER granting 13 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment in FOIA case . Responses due by 7/25/2018. Signed by Judge John W. Sedwick on 6/26/18. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF) (Entered: 06/26/2018)
2018-07-2516RESPONSE in Opposition re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment in FOIA case filed by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A- Dkt 1 Complaint 317-cv-00046-JWS, # 2 Exhibit B- CM-ECF District of Alaska Version 6_1 LIVE DB_pl, # 3 Exhibit C- Kristen Coyne Signed Declaration with Exhibits, # 4 Exhibit D- Tamela Tobia Signed Declaration with Exhibits, # 5 Exhibit E- Vaughn Index - JAMES 25 JUL Updated Version)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 07/25/2018)
2018-07-2517Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A- Dkt 1 Complaint 317-cv-00046-JWS, # 2 Exhibit B- CM-ECF District of Alaska Version 6_1 LIVE DB_pl, # 3 Exhibit C- Kristen Coyne Signed Declaration with Exhibits, # 4 Exhibit D- Tamela Tobia Signed Declaration with Exhibits, # 5 Exhibit E- Vaughn Index - JAMES 25 JUL Updated Version)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 07/25/2018)
2018-08-0818MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 17 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment , 16 Response in Opposition to Motion, Unopposed by Dayle James.(Flanigan, Michael) (Entered: 08/08/2018)
2018-08-1219TEXT ORDER re 18 Motion for Extension of Time to File Reply re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment in FOIA case , and Response re 17 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment. The motion at docket 18 is GRANTED. Plaintiff's reply to the motion at docket 12 is due on or before 8/23/18. Plaintiff's response to the motion at docket 17 is due on or before 8/23/18. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF) (Entered: 08/12/2018)
2018-08-2320RESPONSE to Motion re 17 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment , REPLY to 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment in FOIA case and Opposition Brief filed by Dayle James. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit e-mails, # 2 Exhibit e-mails, # 3 Exhibit e-mails, # 4 Exhibit February, 2015 inspection and maintenance report, # 5 Exhibit April, 2015 inspection and maintenance report)(Flanigan, Michael) Modified on 8/24/2018 to clarify docket text (JLH, COURT STAFF). (Entered: 08/23/2018)
2018-09-0621REPLY to Response to Motion re 17 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A- Redacted, # 2 Exhibit B-Dkt 55 Plaintiff's Status Report)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 09/06/2018)
2018-10-1022ORDER granting in part and denying in part 12 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part 17 Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant shall provide Plaintiff with the names and current location of those persons whose identifying information was redacted; Defendant is not required to provide any additional documents to Plaintiff. Signed by Judge John W. Sedwick on 10/10/18. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF) (Entered: 10/10/2018)
2018-11-2823INITIAL CASE STATUS REPORT/CASE SCHEDULING AND PLANNING ORDER: Counsel for plaintiff shall serve and file the Rule 26 Meeting Report within 28 days of service of this order. (JLH, COURT STAFF) (Entered: 11/28/2018)
2018-11-2924MOTION for Attorney Fees and Costs by Dayle James. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 Exhibit, # 7 Exhibit, # 8 Exhibit, # 9 Exhibit, # 10 Exhibit, # 11 Exhibit, # 12 Exhibit, # 13 Proposed Order)(Flanigan, Michael) (Entered: 11/29/2018)
2018-11-2925DECLARATION of Michael W. Flanigan re 24 MOTION for Attorney Fees and Costs by Dayle James. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit)(Flanigan, Michael) (Entered: 11/29/2018)
2018-12-0626NOTICE of Compliance by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense re 22 Order on Motion for Summary Judgment,,, (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A- Names and Addresses Pursuant to Order of Chambers ICO Dayle James v. DoD)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 12/06/2018)
2018-12-1227Joint STIPULATION Regarding Extension of Time for Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney Fess (Dkt 24) by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 12/12/2018)
2018-12-1928TEXT ORDER re 27 Joint STIPULATION Regarding Extension of Time for Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fess (Dkt 24) .The stipulation at docket 27 is approved. The United States shall respond to the motion for attorneys' fees no later than 12/27/18. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF) (Entered: 12/19/2018)
2019-02-0329TEXT STATUS REPORT ORDER. Plaintiff will please file a status report within 7 days.(GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF) (Entered: 02/03/2019)
2019-02-0530Joint STIPULATION Regarding Attorney's Fees and Costs by U.S. Army, United States Department of Defense. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Gray, Sara) (Entered: 02/05/2019)
2019-02-0631ORDER granting 30 Stipulation. Defendants shall pay Plaintiff's costs in the amount of $400.00 and attorney's fees in the amount of $8,100.00, for a total award of $8,500.00. Signed by Judge John W. Sedwick on 2/6/19. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF) (Entered: 02/06/2019)
Hide Docket Events
by FOIA Project Staff
Skip to toolbar