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Case TitleCENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2018cv01599
Date Filed2018-07-05
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Dabney L. Friedrich
PlaintiffCENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
Case DescriptionThe Center for Investigative Reporting submitted FOIA requests to the Department of the Interior for records concerning the Migratory Bird Treaty and the effect on national parks of sea level changes. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, CIR filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Opinion/Order [27]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Dabney Friedrich has ruled that the Department of Interior has not shown any foreseeable harm from disclosure of records withheld under Exemption 5 (privileges) in response to two requests from the Center for Investigative Reporting. CIR's first request asked for communications between the staff of the Office of the Solicitor and outside entities pertaining to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The second request was sent to the National Park Service and asked for communications pertaining to the agency's report on sea level change in national parks. The agency's search for records responsive to the first request yielded 7,554 pages. The agency redacted portions of the records under Exemption 2 (internal practices and procedures), Exemption 5, and Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). The NPS search located 3,075 pages of responsive records which were disclosed with redactions made under Exemption 5 and Exemption 6. CIR submitted a second FOIA request to NPS for records of communications between Maria Caffrey, an employee in the Colorado Field Office of the Department of Education, and Brendan Moynahan, an NPS employee. The agency located 1,691 pages responsive to the second request and determined that 1,600 pages responsive to the first request were also responsive to the second request. In response to the second request, the NPS redacted records pursuant to Exemption 2, Exemption 4 (confidential business information), Exemption 5, Exemption 6, and Exemption 7(A) (interference with ongoing investigation or proceeding). CIR only challenged the agency's conclusion that disclosure of records under Exemption 5 would cause foreseeable harm. Friedrich agreed that the agency's claim that disclosure of the records would cause foreseeable harm to the agency's deliberative process privilege was insufficient. She noted that "on the current record, the Department has not established a reasonably foreseeable link between these harms and the specific information contained in the withheld records. First, the Department merely asserts what could happen if this information were released. The Department has not even asserted, let alone established, that it is reasonably foreseeable that disclosing these records would lead to these harms. But the Department must show that disclosure would cause reasonably foreseeable harms, not that it could cause such harms." Friedrich explained that "the Department has not provided enough information about these record categories to establish a particular link between their disclosure and these purported harms. Again, the Department must 'connect the harms in a meaningful way' to the withheld records, 'such as by providing context or insight into the specific decision-making processes or deliberations at issue, and how they in particular would be harmed by disclosure."
Issues: Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Deliberative
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2018-07-051COMPLAINT against UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-5572359) filed by THE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons)(Topic, Matthew) Modified attachment descriptions on 7/6/2018 (zjd). (Entered: 07/05/2018)
2018-07-052NOTICE of Appearance by Matthew Topic on behalf of THE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (Topic, Matthew) (Entered: 07/05/2018)
2018-07-06Case Assigned to Judge Dabney L. Friedrich. (zjd) (Entered: 07/06/2018)
2018-07-063SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General. (Attachments: # 1 Notice and Consent)(zjd) (Entered: 07/06/2018)
2018-07-064MOTION for Leave to Appear Pro Hac Vice :Attorney Name- D. Victoria Baranetsky, :Address- 1400 65th Street, Emeryville, CA 94609. Phone No. - (510) 982-2890. Filing fee $ 100, receipt number 0090-5574809. Fee Status: Fee Paid. by CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Declaration, # 2 Text of Proposed Order Proposed Order)(Topic, Matthew) (Entered: 07/06/2018)
2018-07-06MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the 4 Motion for Leave to Appear Pro Hac Vice, it is ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on July 6, 2018. (MJS) (Entered: 07/06/2018)
2018-08-085RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR served on 7/13/2018 (Topic, Matthew) (Entered: 08/08/2018)
2018-08-086RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 07/16/2018. (Topic, Matthew) (Entered: 08/08/2018)
2018-08-087RETURN 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. (Topic, Matthew) (Entered: 08/08/2018)
2018-08-148NOTICE of Appearance by Brian J. Field on behalf of All Defendants (Field, Brian) (Entered: 08/14/2018)
2018-08-149ANSWER to Complaint by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR.(Field, Brian) (Entered: 08/14/2018)
2018-08-14MINUTE ORDER requiring the parties to MEET AND CONFER and file a joint status report proposing a schedule for further proceedings. The parties shall file the joint status report on or before September 4, 2018. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on August 14, 2018. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 08/14/2018)
2018-08-2210Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to file Joint Status Report by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (Field, Brian) (Entered: 08/22/2018)
2018-08-22MINUTE ORDER granting the defendant's 10 Unopposed Motion for Extension of Time. It is ORDERED that the parties shall file their joint status report proposing a schedule for further proceedings on or before September 11, 2018. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on August 22, 2018. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 08/22/2018)
2018-09-1111Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 09/11/2018)
2018-09-12MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 11 Joint Status Report, it is ORDERED that the parties shall submit another joint status report on or before November 8, 2018. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on September 12, 2018. (JK) (Entered: 09/12/2018)
2018-11-0812Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 11/08/2018)
2018-11-08MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 12 Joint Status Report, it is ORDERED that the parties shall file another joint status report on or before January 7, 2019. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on November 8, 2018. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 11/08/2018)
2018-11-08Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Joint Status Report due by 1/7/2019. (jl) (Entered: 11/13/2018)
2019-01-0413Unopposed MOTION to Stay in Light of Lapse in Appropriations by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (Field, Brian) (Entered: 01/04/2019)
2019-01-04MINUTE ORDER granting the defendants' 13 Unopposed Motion to Stay Proceedings in Light of Lapse in Appropriations. Accordingly, it is ORDERED that this case is STAYED until Congress has restored appropriations to the Department of Justice. It is further ORDERED that within two days of appropriations being restored, the parties shall file a joint status report. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on January 4, 2019. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 01/04/2019)
2019-01-2914Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 01/29/2019)
2019-01-30MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 14 Joint Status Report, it is ORDERED that the defendant shall file a motion for summary judgment on or before March 29, 2019; the plaintiff shall file an opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment on or before May 3, 2019; the defendant shall file a reply and opposition to cross-motion for summary judgment on or before June 17, 2019; and the plaintiff may file a reply on or before July 8, 2019. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on January 30, 2019. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 01/30/2019)
2019-01-30Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Defendant's Summary Judgment motion due by 3/29/2019. Plaintiff's opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment due by 5/3/2019. Defendant's reply and opposition to cross-motion for summary judgment due by 6/17/2019. Plaintiff's reply due by 7/8/2019. (jl) (Entered: 01/30/2019)
2019-03-2915Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Summary Judgment Motion by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (Field, Brian) (Entered: 03/29/2019)
2019-03-29MINUTE ORDER granting the defendant's 15 Consent Motion for Extension of Time. The defendant shall file its motion for summary judgment on or before April 5, 2019. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on March 29, 2019. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 03/29/2019)
2019-03-29Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Defendant's Summary Judgment motion due by 4/5/2019. (zcdw) (Entered: 04/01/2019)
2019-04-0516MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Exhibit Ex. 1 - Moore Decl., # 4 Exhibit Ex. 2 - Wilson Decl., # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Field, Brian) (Entered: 04/05/2019)
2019-04-3017ERRATA by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 16 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support Corrected, # 2 Statement of Facts Corrected)(Field, Brian) (Entered: 04/30/2019)
2019-05-0318MOTION for Summary Judgment Plaintiff's Combined Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and in Support of Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment by CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order Proposed Order)(Burday, Joshua) (Entered: 05/03/2019)
2019-05-0319Memorandum in opposition to re 16 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts Plaintiff's Local Civil Rule 7(h) Statement of Genuine Issues of Fact, # 2 Text of Proposed Order Proposed Order)(Burday, Joshua) (Entered: 05/03/2019)
2019-06-0720Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 18 MOTION for Summary Judgment Plaintiff's Combined Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and in Support of Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (Field, Brian) (Entered: 06/07/2019)
2019-06-07MINUTE ORDER granting the defendant's 20 Unopposed Motion for Extension of Time. The defendant shall file its reply and opposition on or before June 24, 2019, and the plaintiff shall file its reply on or before July 15, 2019. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on June 7, 2019. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 06/07/2019)
2019-06-07Set/Reset Deadlines: Response to Cross Motions due by 6/24/2019. Reply to Cross Motions due by 7/15/2019. (zcal) (Entered: 06/10/2019)
2019-06-2421REPLY to opposition to motion re 16 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Supp. Moore Decl., # 2 Declaration Supp. Wilson Decl.)(Field, Brian) (Entered: 06/24/2019)
2019-06-2422Memorandum in opposition to re 18 MOTION for Summary Judgment Plaintiff's Combined Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and in Support of Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Supp. Moore Decl., # 2 Declaration Supp. Wilson Decl., # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Field, Brian) (Entered: 06/24/2019)
2019-07-1523REPLY to opposition to motion re 18 MOTION for Summary Judgment Plaintiff's Combined Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and in Support of Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment filed by CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING. (Burday, Joshua) (Entered: 07/15/2019)
2019-08-0624NOTICE of Appearance by Merrick Jason Wayne on behalf of CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (Wayne, Merrick) (Entered: 08/06/2019)
2020-04-06MINUTE ORDER. The parties' briefs refer to a Vaughan index, but it does not appear that a Vaughn index has been filed with the Court. The government shall, on or before April 7, 2020, either file a Vaughn index or explain why a Vaughn index is not necessary for resolving the remaining disputes in this case. So Ordered by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on April 6, 2020. (lcdlf1) (Entered: 04/06/2020)
2020-04-06Set/Reset Deadlines: Vaughn Index due by 4/7/2020, (zjch) (Entered: 04/06/2020)
2020-04-0625RESPONSE TO ORDER OF THE COURT re Order, filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 04/06/2020)
2020-04-0726ORDER granting in part and denying without prejudice in part the government's 16 Motion for Summary Judgment and denying without prejudice the plaintiff's 18 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. See text for details. The parties shall jointly file a proposed schedule for further proceedings on or before May 7, 2020. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on April 7, 2020. (lcdlf1) (Entered: 04/07/2020)
2020-04-0727MEMORANDUM OPINION regarding the government's 16 Motion for Summary Judgment and the plaintiff's 18 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. See text for details. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on April 7, 2020. (lcdlf1) (Entered: 04/07/2020)
2020-05-0728Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 05/07/2020)
2020-05-07MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 28 Joint Status Report, it is ORDERED that the following schedule shall govern these proceedings: (1) the defendants shall file their renewed motion for summary judgment on or before June 12, 2020; the plaintiff shall file its opposition and renewed cross-motion for summary judgment on or before July 13, 2020; the defendants shall file their opposition and reply in support of their renewed motion for summary judgment on or before August 7, 2020; and the plaintiff shall file its reply in support of its renewed cross-motion for summary judgment on or before August 28, 2020. So Ordered by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on May 7, 2020. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 05/07/2020)
2020-05-07Set/Reset Deadlines: Cross Motions due by 7/13/2020. Response to Cross Motions due by 8/7/2020. Reply to Cross Motions due by 8/28/2020. Summary Judgment motions due by 6/12/2020. Response to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 7/13/2020. Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 8/7/2020. (zjch) (Entered: 05/08/2020)
2020-06-1229MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Declaration 2d Supp. Moore Decl., # 4 Declaration 2d Supp. Wilson Decl.)(Field, Brian) (Entered: 06/12/2020)
2020-07-0730Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to Briefing Schedule by CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Burday, Joshua) (Entered: 07/07/2020)
2020-07-07MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the plaintiff's 30 Unopposed Motion for Extension of Time, it is ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED. Accordingly, the plaintiff shall file its opposition and any cross-motion for summary judgment on or before August 12, 2020; the defendant shall file its cross-opposition and any reply in support of its own motion for summary judgment on or before September 14, 2020; and the plaintiff shall file any reply in support of its cross-motion for summary judgment on or before October 5, 2020. So Ordered by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on July 7, 2020. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 07/07/2020)
2020-07-07Set/Reset Deadlines: Cross Motions due by 8/12/2020. Response to Cross Motions due by 9/14/2020. Reply to Cross Motions due by 10/5/2020. Response to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 8/12/2020. Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 9/14/2020. (zjch) (Entered: 07/08/2020)
2020-08-1231RESPONSE re 29 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Burday, Joshua) (Entered: 08/12/2020)
2020-09-17MINUTE ORDER. In light of the plaintiff's 31 Response, the parties shall file a joint status report on or before September 24, 2020 informing the Court whether the case has resolved or the parties seek a ruling on the government's pending 29 Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment. If the case has resolved, the parties shall file a stipulation of dismissal pursuant to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on September 17, 2020. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 09/17/2020)
2020-09-17Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 9/24/2020 (zjch) (Entered: 09/17/2020)
2020-09-2432Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 09/24/2020)
2020-09-24MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 32 Joint Status Report, it is ORDERED that the parties shall file another joint status report on or before October 30, 2020, if they have not filed a stipulation of dismissal by that time. Signed by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on September 24, 2020. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 09/24/2020)
2020-09-24Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 10/30/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 09/24/2020)
2020-10-3033Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 10/30/2020)
2020-10-30MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 33 Joint Status Report, it is ORDERED that the parties shall file another joint status report on or before November 30, 2020, if they have not filed a stipulation of dismissal by that time. So Ordered by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on October 30, 2020. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 10/30/2020)
2020-10-30Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 11/30/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 10/30/2020)
2020-11-3034Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 11/30/2020)
2020-12-01MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 34 Joint Status Report, it is ORDERED that the parties shall file another joint status report on or before December 30, 2020, if they have not filed a stipulation of dismissal by that time. So Ordered by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on December 1, 2020. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 12/01/2020)
2020-12-01Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 12/30/2020 (zjch) (Entered: 12/01/2020)
2020-12-2335Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 12/23/2020)
2020-12-23MINUTE ORDER. Upon consideration of the parties' 35 Joint Status Report, it is ORDERED that the parties shall file another joint status report on or before January 29, 2021, if they have not filed a stipulation of dismissal by that time. So Ordered by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on December 23, 2020. (lcdlf2) (Entered: 12/23/2020)
2020-12-23Set/Reset Deadlines: Status Report due by 1/29/2021 (zjch) (Entered: 12/23/2020)
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