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Case TitlePROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2018cv01202
Date Filed2018-05-22
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Carl J. Nichols
PlaintiffPROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC.
PlaintiffRYAN NOAH SHAPIRO
Case DescriptionProperty of the People and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted FOIA requests to the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Their requests to the FBI asked for records on filmmaker Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn, and for records concerning state and federal anti-whistleblower laws applicable to the agriculture industry. For all three requests, the FBI said it found no records. Property of the People filed administrative appeals of all three decisions with the Office of Information Policy. OIP upheld the FBI's responses. Property of the People submitted a FOIA request to DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis for records concerning filmmakers, documentaries, and organizations promoting veganism and animal welfare. Property of the People requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Property of the People that it was invoking a 10-day extension. Property of the People also submitted a FOIA request to DHS regarding the anti-whistleblower laws pertaining to the agriculture industry. The agency told Property of the People that it had found no records. Property of the People filed an administrative appeal of that decision. Property of the People submitted a FOIA request to ONDI for records concerning filmmakers, documentaries, and organizations promoting veganism and animal welfare. Property of the People also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. After hearing nothing further from any of the agencies concerning its requests, Property of the People filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantDEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
DefendantDEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
DefendantDEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
TERMINATED: 08/02/2019
DefendantOFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
DefendantOFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
TERMINATED: 08/02/2019
DefendantUNITED STATES ARMY
DefendantUNITED STATES ARMY
TERMINATED: 08/02/2019
DefendantNATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
DefendantNATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
TERMINATED: 08/02/2019
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Opinion/Order [26]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Carl Nichols has ruled that the FBI has not shown that it conducted an adequate search for records in response to requests from Property of the People and its founder Ryan Shapiro for records relating to the documentary film "Cowspiracy," the term "ag-gag" and eight specific pieces of legislation. The agency searched its Central Records System but located no responsive records. Property of the People argued that the agency should have known that a keyword search would not yield any responsive records and instead should have conducted a more targeted search. Nichols agreed the search was insufficient under the circumstances. He noted that "defendants' argument that the FBI followed (or even went beyond) its standard FOIA search procedures and thus satisfied its FOIA search obligation misses the key question, which is not whether they can demonstrate that standard FOIA procedures were followed. Rather, the correct question is whether the search was reasonably calibrated to produce all relevant records." He pointed out that "because defendants have failed to provide any evidence that terms liked these were likely to be indexed, they have not demonstrated that the FBI conducted a sufficient search for records relating to 'Cowspiracy' or 'ag-gag.'" Nichols also rejected the FBI's argument that a more thorough search would be unduly burdensome. He observed that "here, Defendants have not produced any explanation, much less a detailed one, of the time and expense of the proposed searches. Instead, they rely solely on conclusory statements from their declarant, stating that full-text searches and searches of specific offices would be highly burdensome to the FBI. These statements, without more, are insufficient to relieve the FBI from its obligation to do more than search the CRS indices." He added that "the Court certainly cannot conclude, based on the record before it, that it would be unduly burdensome for the FBI to have to do more than it already has."
Issues: Search - Reasonableness of search
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2018-05-221COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-5495986) filed by PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC., RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 05/22/2018)
2018-05-222LCvR 7.1 CERTIFICATE OF DISCLOSURE of Corporate Affiliations and Financial Interests by PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC. (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 05/22/2018)
2018-05-24Case Assigned to Judge Christopher R. Cooper. (zsb) (Entered: 05/24/2018)
2018-05-243SUMMONS (5) Issued Electronically as to DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachment: # 1 Notice and Consent)(zsb) (Entered: 05/24/2018)
2018-07-104AMENDED COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, UNITED STATES ARMY, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY filed by PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC., RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Attachments: # 1 Summons)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 07/10/2018)
2018-07-115SUMMONS (2) Issued Electronically as to NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY, UNITED STATES ARMY. (ztd) (Entered: 07/11/2018)
2018-07-276RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 7/16/2018. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 8/15/2018.), RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY served on 7/20/2018; DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE served on 7/16/2018; NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY served on 7/19/2018; OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE served on 7/23/2018; UNITED STATES ARMY served on 7/20/2018, RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 7/16/18. (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 07/27/2018)
2018-08-157NOTICE of Appearance by Joshua M. Kolsky on behalf of DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, UNITED STATES ARMY (Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 08/15/2018)
2018-08-158ANSWER to 4 Amended Complaint, by DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, UNITED STATES ARMY.(Kolsky, Joshua) (Entered: 08/15/2018)
2019-02-269NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Matthew Evan Kahn on behalf of All Defendants Substituting for attorney Joshua Kolsky (Kahn, Matthew) (Entered: 02/26/2019)
2019-06-05MINUTE ORDER: Before the Court in this FOIA case are a complaint and an answer. Since the requirements of LCvR 16.3 and Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not apply, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall confer and file a joint proposed schedule for briefing or disclosure by June 19, 2019. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 6/5/2019. (lccrc1) (Entered: 06/05/2019)
2019-06-06Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Proposed Briefing Schedule due by 6/19/2019 (lsj) (Entered: 06/06/2019)
2019-06-1310Joint STATUS REPORT by PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC., RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 06/13/2019)
2019-06-18MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the parties' 10 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the summary judgment briefing shall proceed as follows: Defendants shall file their motion for summary judgment by August 2, 2019; Plaintiffs shall file their opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment by September 16, 2019; Defendants shall file their reply and opposition by October 7, 2019; and Plaintiffs shall file their reply by October 28, 2019. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 6/18/2019. (lccrc1) (Entered: 06/18/2019)
2019-06-18Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendants' Summary Judgment motion due by 8/2/2019. Plaintiffs' Response and Cross Motion due by 9/16/2019. Defendants' Reply and Response to Cross Motion due by 10/7/2019. Plaintiffs' Reply to Cross Motion due by 10/28/2019. (kh) (Entered: 06/18/2019)
2019-06-24Case directly reassigned to Judge Carl J. Nichols. Judge Christopher R. Cooper is no longer assigned to the case. (ztnr) (Entered: 06/24/2019)
2019-08-0211NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal re Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, United States Army, National Security Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (Kahn, Matthew) (Entered: 08/02/2019)
2019-08-0212MOTION for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Declaration, # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Kahn, Matthew) (Entered: 08/02/2019)
2019-09-1613Memorandum in opposition to re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC., RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 09/16/2019)
2019-09-1614Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC., RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 09/16/2019)
2019-10-0715Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Reply and Opposition to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion For Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, UNITED STATES ARMY (Kahn, Matthew) (Entered: 10/07/2019)
2019-10-09MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of Defendant Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) 15 Consent Motion for Extension of Time, it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED and further ORDERED (1) that Defendant FBI shall file its Reply to Plaintiffs' 13 Opposition to its 12 Motion for Summary Judgment on or before November 4, 2019; (2) that Defendant FBI shall file its Opposition to Plaintiffs' 14 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before November 4, 2019; and (3) that Plaintiffs shall file their Reply to Defendant FBI's Opposition to their 14 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before November 25, 2019. Signed by Judge Carl J. Nichols on October 9, 2019. (lccjn1) (Entered: 10/09/2019)
2019-11-0416NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Derek S. Hammond on behalf of All Defendants Substituting for attorney Matthew Kahn (Hammond, Derek) (Entered: 11/04/2019)
2019-11-0417Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply by DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, UNITED STATES ARMY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Hammond, Derek) (Entered: 11/04/2019)
2019-11-05MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of Defendant FBI's 17 Consent Motion for Enlargement of Time, it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED and that (1) Defendant FBI shall file its Reply to Plaintiffs' 13 Opposition to FBI's Motion for Summary Judgment on or before November 18, 2019; (2) Defendant FBI shall file its Opposition to Plaintiffs' 14 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before November 18, 2019; and (3) Plaintiffs shall file their Reply to Defendant FBI's Opposition to Plaintiffs' 14 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before December 16, 2019. Signed by Judge Carl J. Nichols on November 5, 2019. (lccjn1) (Entered: 11/05/2019)
2019-11-05Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Defendant FBI's reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 11/18/2019. Defendant FBI's response to Cross Motion for Summary Judgment due by 11/18/2019. Plaintiffs' reply to Cross Motion for Summary Judgment due by 12/16/2019. (zcdw) (Entered: 11/05/2019)
2019-11-0818NOTICE of Appearance by Katherine Boyd Palmer-Ball on behalf of All Defendants (Palmer-Ball, Katherine) (Entered: 11/08/2019)
2019-11-1319Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Palmer-Ball, Katherine) (Entered: 11/13/2019)
2019-11-14MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of Defendant FBI's 19 Consent Motion for Enlargement of Time, it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED. It is further ORDERED that (1) Defendant FBI shall file its combined Reply to Plaintiffs' 13 Opposition to Defendant FBI's 12 Motion for Summary Judgment and Opposition to Plaintiffs' 14 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before December 5, 2019, and (2) Plaintiffs shall file their Reply to Defendant FBI's Opposition to their Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before December 23, 2019. Signed by Judge Carl J. Nichols on November 14, 2019. (lccjn1) (Entered: 11/14/2019)
2019-11-14Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Defendant FBI's reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 12/5/2019. Plaintiffs' response to Cross Motion for Summary Judgment due by 12/5/2019. Reply to Cross Motion for Summary Judgment due by 12/23/2019. (zcdw) (Entered: 11/16/2019)
2019-12-0520Unopposed MOTION for Leave to File to Submit an Ex Parte, In Camera Declaration by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Palmer-Ball, Katherine) (Entered: 12/05/2019)
2019-12-0521REPLY to opposition to motion re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A (Second Declaration of David M. Hardy))(Palmer-Ball, Katherine) (Entered: 12/05/2019)
2019-12-0522Memorandum in opposition to re 14 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A (Second Declaration of David M. Hardy), # 2 Response to Plaintiffs' Statement of Material Facts, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Palmer-Ball, Katherine) (Entered: 12/05/2019)
2019-12-12MINUTE ORDER. After review of Defendant FBI's Unopposed Motion for Leave to Submit an Ex Parte , In Camera Declaration, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendant FBI's Motion is GRANTED. Signed by Judge Carl J. Nichols on December 12, 2019. (lccjn1) (Entered: 12/12/2019)
2019-12-1223NOTICE of Ex Parte, In Camera Filing by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Palmer-Ball, Katherine) (Entered: 12/12/2019)
2019-12-2324REPLY to opposition to motion re 14 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC., RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 12/23/2019)
2020-10-08MINUTE ORDER. After review of Defendants' 12 Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiffs' 14 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, it is hereby ORDERED that a telephonic hearing on the Motions is scheduled for October 19, 2020, at 2 PM. Signed by Judge Carl J. Nichols on October 8, 2020. (lccjn1) (Entered: 10/08/2020)
2020-10-08Set/Reset Hearings: Telephone Motion Hearing set for 10/19/2020 at 02:00 PM in Telephonic/VTC before Judge Carl J. Nichols. (zcal) (Entered: 10/09/2020)
2020-10-19Minute Order and Entry for Proceedings held before Judge Carl J. Nichols: Motion Hearing held on 10/19/2020 re 12 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 14 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, INC., RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. Motions taken under advisement by the Court. Court Reporter: Lorraine Herman. (zcal) (Entered: 10/19/2020)
2021-03-3125ORDER. Signed by Judge Carl J. Nichols on March 31, 2021. (lccjn1) (Entered: 03/31/2021)
2021-03-3126MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Carl J. Nichols on March 31, 2021. (lccjn1) (Entered: 03/31/2021)
2021-04-3027Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Hammond, Derek) (Entered: 04/30/2021)
2021-05-0228TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS before Judge Carl J. Nichols held on 10/19/2020. Page Numbers: 1-25. Court Reporter/Transcriber Lorraine Herman, Telephone number 202-354-3196. Transcripts may be ordered by submitting the Transcript Order Form For the first 90 days after this filing date, the transcript may be viewed at the courthouse at a public terminal or purchased from the court reporter referenced above. After 90 days, the transcr ipt may be accessed via PACER. Other transcript formats, (multi-page, condensed, CD or ASCII) may be purchased from the court reporter. NOTICE RE REDACTION OF TRANSCRIPTS: The parties have twenty-one days to file with the court and the court reporter any request to redact personal identifiers from this transcript. If no such requests are filed, the transcript will be made available to the public via PACER without redaction after 90 days. The policy, which includes the five personal identifiers specifically covered, is located on our website at www.dcd.uscourts.gov. Redaction Request due 5/23/2021. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 6/2/2021. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 7/31/2021.(Herman, Lorraine) (Entered: 05/02/2021)
2021-05-3129Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Hammond, Derek) (Entered: 05/31/2021)
2021-06-3030Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Hammond, Derek) (Entered: 06/30/2021)
2021-07-2531NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF APPEARANCE as to DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. Attorney Katherine Boyd Palmer-Ball terminated. (Palmer-Ball, Katherine) (Entered: 07/25/2021)
2021-08-15MINUTE ORDER. After review of the Parties' 31 Joint Status Report, it is hereby ORDERED that the Parties shall file an additional joint status report by October 1, 2021. Signed by Judge Carl J. Nichols on August 15, 2021. (lccjn1) (Entered: 08/15/2021)
2021-08-18Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 10/1/2021. (zkh) (Entered: 08/18/2021)
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