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Case TitleRocky Mountain Wild v. United States Bureau of Land Management et al
DistrictDistrict of Colorado
CityDenver
Case Number1:2018cv00314
Date Filed2018-02-08
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge William J. Martinez
PlaintiffRocky Mountain Wild, Inc. a Colorado non-profit corporation
Case DescriptionRocky Mountain Wild submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning the impact that leasing land for oil and mineral exploration will have on the Gunnison sage-grouse and other protected species. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and began to process it. But after hearing nothing further from the agency, Rocky Mountain Wild filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUnited States Bureau of Land Management a federal agency
DefendantUnited States Department of Interior a federal agency
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
Opinion/Order [20]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in Colorado has ruled that Rocky Mountain Wild has failed to state a claim for relief pertaining to its FOIA suit against the Bureau of Land Management since the agency has now responded and there is no evidence of a policy or practice on the part of the agency to delay processing the organization's FOIA requests. Rocky Mountain Wild submitted a FOIA request for records concerning the agency's proposed March 2018 oil and gas leasing of specified parcels. The agency took a 10-day extension and after 30 days provided an interim response of 140 pages. Three weeks later, BLM disclosed a final response containing 1,595 pages. Rocky Mountain Wild then filed suit, claiming that the agency had missed the statutory deadline, that the agency's behavior required referral to the Office of Special Counsel for sanctions, and that the agency had a policy or practice of failing to respond to requests on time. Rocky Mountain Wild argued that its first claim that the agency had missed its statutory deadline was made to establish constructive exhaustion of remedies. However, the court pointed out that "BLM does not argue that Rocky Mountain Wild failed to exhaust administrative remedies, and in any event an allegation that establishes constructive exhaustion is not a claim for relief, any more than an allegation to establish federal subject matter jurisdiction is a claim for relief." The court pointed out that BLM had mooted Rocky Mountain Wild's timeliness claim by completing its request. The court observed that "BLM went through the normal FOIA process (albeit more slowly than Rocky Mountain Wild would prefer), issued a final determination, and closed the FOIA request. If this Court later determines that BLM improperly withheld documents, it would mean that BLM's 'final determination' was incomplete, but not any less final from the agency's perspective. FOIA requests are not deemed open indefinitely until a court approves the agency's response." The court then pointed out that while Rocky Mountain Wild could ask the court to refer the agency to the Office of Special Counsel for a determination as to whether the agency's behavior should be sanctioned, under FOIA such a process was not available until the court determined that the plaintiff had substantially prevailed and awarded attorney's fees. Dismissing the sanctions claim, the court noted that "a cause of action that cannot be resolved until after judgment is essentially a contradiction in terms. The Court accordingly agrees with BLM that a request for a Special Counsel referral is a remedy, not a cause of action." The court rejected Rocky Mountain Wild's claim that the agency had a policy or practice of misallocating resources that slowed down its ability to respond to FOIA requests, or purposely prolonging responses to prevent public interest groups from meeting public comment deadlines.
Issues: Litigation - Jurisdiction - Failure to State a Claim
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2018-02-081COMPLAINT against Bureau of Land Management, Department of Interior (Filing fee $ 400,Receipt Number 1082-5936742)Attorney Matthew David Sandler added to party Rocky Mountain Wild(pty:pla), filed by Rocky Mountain Wild. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1 FOIA Request, # 2 Exhibit 2 December 5 Response, # 3 Exhibit 3 December 28 Response, # 4 Civil Cover Sheet, # 5 Summons BLM, # 6 Summons DOI, # 7 Summons USAG, # 8 Summons USAO)(Sandler, Matthew) (Entered: 02/08/2018)
2018-02-082Case assigned to Judge William J. Martinez and drawn to Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak. Text Only Entry. (cmadr, ) (Entered: 02/08/2018)
2018-02-083Magistrate Judge consent form issued pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c). (Attachments: # 1 Summons, # 2 Summons, # 3 Summons, # 4 Summons) (cmadr, ) (Entered: 02/08/2018)
2018-02-094NOTICE OF CASE ASSOCIATION by Matthew David Sandler on behalf of Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc. (Sandler, Matthew) (Entered: 02/09/2018)
2018-02-125ORDER REFERRING CASE to Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak. Magistrate Judge Varholak, or such other Magistrate Judge who may in the future be reassigned to this case, is designated to conduct NDISPO proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a) and (b). ALSO ORDERED that unless service has otherwise been completed or arranged, Plaintiff's counsel is directed to effect service of the summons and complaint pursuant to Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure no later than 30 days from the date of this Referral Order, in order for the initial scheduling conference to be held promptly. Court sponsored alternative dispute resolution is governed by D.C.COLO.LCivR 16.6. On the recommendation or informal request of the Magistrate Judge or on the request of the parties by motion, the court may direct the parties to engage in an early neutral evaluation, a settlement conference, or another alternative dispute resolution proceeding. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 2/12/2018. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 02/12/2018)
2018-02-126ORDER: Counsel for the parties and all counsel who may later enter an appearance shall review and familiarize themselves with the undersigned's Revised Practice Standards (as most recently revised effective December 1, 2017 and as they may be amended from time to time), which may be downloaded here . SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 2/ 12/2018. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 02/12/2018)
2018-03-217Joint MOTION for Extension of Time to file Amended Complaint and Responsive Pleading by Plaintiff Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc.. (Sandler, Matthew) (Entered: 03/21/2018)
2018-03-228NOTICE of Entry of Appearance by Lauren Marie Dickey on behalf of United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of InteriorAttorney Lauren Marie Dickey added to party United States Bureau of Land Management(pty:dft), Attorney Lauren Marie Dickey added to party United States Department of Interior(pty:dft) (Dickey, Lauren) (Entered: 03/22/2018)
2018-03-229MEMORANDUM regarding 7 Joint MOTION for Extension of Time to file Amended Complaint and Responsive Pleading filed by Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc.. Motions referred to Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak by Judge William J. Martinez on 3/22/2018. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 03/22/2018)
2018-03-2210ORDER granting 7 Motion for Extension of Time to File Amended Complaint and Response. Plaintiffs are granted leave to file an amended complaint on or before April 3, 2018. Defendants shall file their response to the Amended Complaint on or before April 24, 2018. SO ORDERED, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 3/22/2018. Text Only Entry (stvlc1, ) (Entered: 03/22/2018)
2018-03-2611ORDER Setting Scheduling Conference for 5/30/2018 11:00 AM in Courtroom C203 before Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 3/26/2018. (jgonz, ) (Entered: 03/26/2018)
2018-04-0312AMENDED COMPLAINT against United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of Interior, filed by Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc.. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint, # 2 Exhibit Exhibit 4 _ March 6 Response)(Sandler, Matthew) (Entered: 04/03/2018)
2018-04-2413Partial MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim , Partial MOTION to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction by Defendants United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of Interior. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Dickey, Lauren) (Entered: 04/24/2018)
2018-05-1514RESPONSE to 13 Partial MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Partial MOTION to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction filed by Plaintiff Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc.. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Stills, Travis) (Entered: 05/15/2018)
2018-05-1715Joint MOTION to Vacate 11 Order Setting Scheduling Conference and Related Deadlines by Defendants United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of Interior. (Dickey, Lauren) (Entered: 05/17/2018)
2018-05-1716MEMORANDUM regarding 15 Joint MOTION to Vacate 11 Order Setting Scheduling Conference and Related Deadlines filed by United States Department of Interior, United States Bureau of Land Management. Motions referred to Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak by Judge William J. Martinez on 5/17/2018. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 05/17/2018)
2018-05-1717ORDER granting 15 Joint Motion to Vacate Scheduling Conference and Related Deadlines. The Scheduling Conference for 5/30/2018 11:00 AM is VACATED. Within ten days after the ruling on 13 Defendants' Partial MOTION to Dismiss, counsel for the parties shall jointly contact chambers at 303.335.2365 to reset the Scheduling Conference. A Status Conference is set for 11/16/2018 09:00 AM in Courtroom C203 before Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak. SO ORDERED, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 5/17/2018. Text Only Entry (stvlc1, ) (Entered: 05/17/2018)
2018-05-2918REPLY to Response to 13 Partial MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Partial MOTION to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction filed by Defendants United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of Interior. (Dickey, Lauren) (Entered: 05/29/2018)
2018-11-1619MINUTE ENTRY for Status Conference held before Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 11/16/2018. ORDERED: Parties shall contact Magistrate Judge Varholak chambers at (303)335-2365 ten days upon the Motion [Doc. No. 13] being ruled on to set this for hearing. FTR: STV - 402. (morti, ) (Entered: 11/16/2018)
2019-01-1620ORDER: 1. Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss 13 is GRANTED; 2. U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak shall determine the effect, if any, of the current partial government shutdown on Defendants' ability to proceed with this case and may enter appropriate scheduling or other orders; and 3. Assuming Defendants may currently proceed with the lawsuit, or at the time that they may, the parties are strongly encouraged to consider the utility of requesting a settlement conference before the Magistrate Judge, considering the relatively narrow scope of the remaining dispute. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 01/16/2019. (wjmlc1) (Entered: 01/16/2019)
2019-01-1721MINUTE ORDER This matter is set for a Status Conference on 2/25/2019 09:30 AM in Courtroom A 402 before Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak. SO ORDERED, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 1/17/2019. Text Only Entry (stvlc1, ) (Entered: 01/17/2019)
2019-02-2222MINUTE ORDER Per the request of the parties, the Status Conference set for 2/25/2019 09:30 AM is VACATED and RESET for 3/12/2019 10:30 AM in Courtroom A 402 before Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak. SO ORDERED, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 2/22/2019. Text Only Entry (stvlc1, ) (Entered: 02/22/2019)
2019-03-1223MINUTE ENTRY for Status Conference held before Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 3/12/2019. Status Report due on or before 5/1/2019. FTR: 402. (morti, ) (Entered: 03/12/2019)
2019-05-0124Joint STATUS REPORT by Defendants United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of Interior. (Dickey, Lauren) (Entered: 05/01/2019)
2019-05-0125MINUTE ORDER. Pursuant to 24 Status Report, the parties shall file an additional Status Report on or before 5/22/2019, advising the Court whether there is any basis to continue settlement discussions, or alternatively, proposing an agreed-upon summary judgment schedule or requesting a status conference to address scheduling matters. SO ORDERED, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 5/1/2019. Text Only Entry (stvlc2, ) (Entered: 05/01/2019)
2019-05-2226Joint STATUS REPORT by Defendants United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of Interior. (Dickey, Lauren) (Entered: 05/22/2019)
2019-05-2327MINUTE ORDER This matter is before the Court on 26 Joint Status Report. Plaintiff's portion of the Joint Status Report was prepared prior to Plaintiff's counsel being provided a draft of Defendant's portion of the Joint Status Report, and thus Plaintiff does not directly respond to Defendant's proposal "to take additional steps to respond to concerns raised by Plaintiff." Accordingly, on or before 5/30/2019, Plaintiff shall file a response to Defendant's portion of the Joint Status Report. SO ORDERED, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 5/23/2019. Text Only Entry (stvlc1, ) (Entered: 05/23/2019)
2019-05-3128RESPONSE to Status Report by Plaintiff Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc.. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Stills, Travis) (Entered: 05/31/2019)
2019-05-3129MINUTE ORDER. Status Conference set for 6/6/2019 10:30 AM in Courtroom A 402 before Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak. SO ORDERED, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 5/31/2019. Text Only Entry (stvlc2, ) (Entered: 05/31/2019)
2019-06-0530MINUTE ORDER Per the request of the parties, the Status Conference set for 6/6/2019 10:30 AM is VACATED and RESET for 6/25/2019 10:30 AM in Courtroom A 402 before Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak. The parties may participate in the conference telephonically by initiating a call among all individuals participating by telephone and then calling the Court at 303.335.2365 at the scheduled time. SO ORDERED, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 6/05/2019. Text Only Entry (stvlc1, ) (Entered: 06/05/2019)
2019-06-2531MINUTE ENTRY for Status Conference held before Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 6/25/2019. FTR: 402. (morti, ) (Entered: 06/25/2019)
2019-06-2532Joint MOTION to Amend/Correct/Modify Briefing Schedule by Plaintiff Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc.. (Sandler, Matthew) (Entered: 06/25/2019)
2019-06-2533MEMORANDUM regarding 32 Joint MOTION to Amend/Correct/Modify Briefing Schedule filed by Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc.. Motions referred to Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak by Judge William J. Martinez on 6/25/2019. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 06/25/2019)
2019-06-2634ORDER granting 32 Motion to Amend Briefing Schedule. Defendants shall file their Summary Judgment Brief by 7/19/2019, and Plaintiff shall then file its response to Defendants' Motion and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment by 8/20/2019. Defendants shall file their response to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion and Reply in support of their Motion for Summary Judgment by 9/27/2019, and Plaintiff may then file a reply in support of its Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment by 10/17/2019. SO ORDERED, by Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak on 6/26/2019. Text Only Entry(stvlc1, ) (Entered: 06/26/2019)
2019-07-1935MOTION for Summary Judgment by Defendants United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of Interior. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit)(Dickey, Lauren) (Entered: 07/19/2019)
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