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Jan 22 15

FOIA Activity: 8 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by foiaproj

We have added 8 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between January 11, 2015 and January 17, 2015. These are associated with 8 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAE 2:2013cv02204Laborers International Union of North America Pacific Soutohwest Region v. U.S. Department of Energy
    • January 16, 2015: MEMORANDUM AND ORDER signed by Chief Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. on 1/15/2015 ORDERING [19] that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED; the Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment in favor of defendant and close the case. CASE CLOSED (Reader, L)
  2. CAN 3:1999cv01825TPS Inc. v. Dept of Defense, et al
    • January 16, 2015: ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION. Signed by Judge JEFFREY S. WHITE on 1/16/15. (jjoS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/16/2015)
  3. CAN 3:2003cv04992Snyder v. Department of Defense et al
    • January 14, 2015: ORDER re [157] MOTION to Compel filed by Richard Snyder. Government responses due by 1/28/2015. Signed by Judge Vince Chhabria on 1/14/2015. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service)(knmS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/14/2015)
  4. DC 1:2014cv00724JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. UNITED STATES OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL
    • January 13, 2015: MEMORANDUM AND OPINION re [15] Order on Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 1/13/15. (lcjeb2)
  5. DC 1:2014cv00975COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE et al v. UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
    • January 13, 2015: MEMORANDUM OPINION re [13] Order on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 01/13/15. (lcjeb3)
  6. OHS 2:2015cv00077Miller v. Logan County Corporation, et al., et al
    • January 13, 2015: ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS. It is RECOMMENDED that the Complaint be dismissed. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of fees or costs, ECF [1] , is GRANTED. Objections to Reportand Recommendation due within fourteen (14) days. Signed by Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King on 1/13/2015. (pes1) (This document has been sent by regular and certified mail to the party(ies) listed in the NEF that did not receive electronic notification. 7009 2820 0003 5796 3218) Modified text on 1/14/2015 (agm1).
  7. OR 3:2014cv00734Engman v. Veterans' Administration Portland Medical Center
    • January 16, 2015: OPINION & ORDER: Defendant's motion to dismiss [31] is granted in part and denied in part. The motion is denied as to Plaintiff's non-medical records. The motion is granted as to Plaintiff's medical records, as to any defendant other than "Veterans' Administration Portland Medical Center" (the only named defendant), and as to any claim for damages, costs, and attorney's fees. Plaintiff's motion to for leave to file a supplemental complaint [56] is denied. See 12-page opinion & order attached. Ordered by Judge Marco A. Hernandez. (mr)
  8. TNM 3:2014cv01616Martinez v. U.S. State Department
    • January 14, 2015: MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT. Signed by District Judge Todd J. Campbell on 1/14/2015. (DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(eh)
Jan 22 15

32 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by foiaproj

We have added 30 documents from 7 FOIA cases filed between January 11, 2015 and January 17, 2015. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. Welby, Brady & Greenblatt, LLP v. United States Department of Health And Human Services et al (filed Jan 12, 2015)
    The law firm of Welby, Brady, & Greenblatt submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Health and Human Services for records concerning the enforcement of the judgment and certain meetings held as part of a class-action liability suit involving a Head Start program. Administration for Children and Families acknowledged receipt of the request, provided responsive records to parts of the request, and indicated that 24 pages would be forthcoming. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the law firm filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  2. Fischbarg v. Federal Communications Commission (filed Jan 12, 2015)
    Gabriel Fischbarg submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Communications Commission for records from a specific file pertaining to American Network, Inc. Fischbarg’s client, Jean-Marc O’Brien had sued American Network. The agency denied the request under Exemption 7(A) (ongoing investigation or proceeding). Fischbarg then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 7(A) – Interference with ongoing investigation, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Sanctions
  3. Miller v. Logan County Corporation, et al., et al (filed Jan 12, 2015)
    Rosanna Miller filed requests with Logan County, Ohio for records showing that Probate Judge Michael Brady was properly authorized under the Constitution. Although any responsive records would only be on the state or local level, she also sued several federal agencies such as the U.S. House of Representatives and the FBI. This is not a FOIA action.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  4. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY v. UNITED STATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE (filed Jan 14, 2015)
    PEER submitted a FOIA request to the Fish and Wildlife Service for records concerning the agency’s monitoring of the double-crested cormorant population. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further, PEER filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. Congaree Riverkeeper Inc v. Carolina Water Service Inc (filed Jan 14, 2015)
    Congaree Riverkeeper filed suit against the Carolina Water Service under the citizen-suit provision of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. This is not a FOIA action.
    Issues: FOIA not mentioned
  6. Tuffly v. United States Department of Homeland Security (filed Jan 15, 2015)
    Edward Tuffley submitted a FOIA request to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning ICE detainees released from specific facilities in Arizona in February or March 2013 and information about their criminal histories. ICE contacted Tuffley for clarification and he responded the next day. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, Tuffley filed suit.
  7. Los Angeles Times Communications LLC et al v. United States Department of Defense (filed Jan 15, 2015)
    Los Angeles Times Reporter David Willman submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency for records concerning incentives or bonuses paid to large defense contractors working on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System between 2001 and 2014. DOD denied the request under Exemption 4 (confidential business information). Willman appealed, arguing DOD had released similar information in the past. The agency was unable to tell Willman when it would complete his appeal. He subsequently filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit

In addition, we have added 2 documents from 1 case, with an earlier filing date, that has recently appeared on PACER.

  • Poniedzielska v. U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services (filed Jan 6, 2015)
    Marianna Poniedzielska filed a suit pro se against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Unfortunately, her complaint, which is the only explanatory document in the file at this time, is both illegible and inarticulate so that it unclear whether the case is FOIA-related or not.
    Issues: FOIA not mentioned
Jan 15 15

FOIA Activity: 18 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by foiaproj

We have added 18 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between December 14, 2014 and January 10, 2015. These are associated with 16 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAN 3:2012cv04008American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California et al v. Department of Justice
    • December 15, 2014: ORDER CONTINUING CMC: Case Management Statement due by 2/26/2015. Case Management Conference set for 3/5/2015 10:00 AM. Signed by Judge Maria-Elena James on 12/15/2014. (cdnS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/15/2014)
  2. CAN 3:2013cv03127American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California v. Department of Justice
    • December 18, 2014: ORDER FOR DEFENDANT TO SUBMIT CHAMBERS COPY re [35] MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Department of Justice. Signed by Judge Maria-Elena James on 12/17/2014. (cdnS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/18/2014)
  3. CAN 3:2014cv02168American Small Business League v. United States Department of the Army
    • January 8, 2015: Order by Hon. Vince Chhabria granting [24] Motion to Dismiss.(knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/8/2015)
  4. CAN 4:2012cv01013First Amendment Coalition v. U.S. Department of Justice
    • December 15, 2014: ORDER by Judge Claudia Wilken GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S [96] MOTION TO VACATE AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS [103] MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS FEES AND COSTS. (ndr, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/15/2014) Modified on 12/16/2014 (cpS, COURT STAFF).
  5. CAN 4:2013cv01593Asian Law Caucus v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al
    • January 5, 2015: ORDER Case Management Statement due by 2/5/2015; Telephonic Case Management Conference set for 2/12/2015 02:45 PM. Signed by Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong on 1/5/2015. (ndr, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/5/2015)
  6. CAN 4:2014cv01746Snyder v. Department of Defense et al
    • January 5, 2015: ORDER REFERRING CASE TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE FOR SETTLEMENT. Case Management Statement due by 6/23/2015. Further Case Management Conference set for 6/30/2015 01:30 PM. Signed by Judge Kandis A. Westmore on 01/05/2015. (kawlc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/5/2015) (Additional attachment(s) added on 1/7/2015: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (sisS, COURT STAFF).
  7. CAN 4:2014cv04667Polk v. Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • December 22, 2014: SCHEDULING ORDER: Signed by Judge Hamilton on 12/22/2014. (pjhlc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/22/2014) (Additional attachment(s) added on 12/22/2014: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (nahS, COURT STAFF). Modified on 12/23/2014 (jlmS, COURT STAFF).
  8. CO 1:2013cv01722Brown et al v. Perez
    • December 23, 2014: ORDER RE: MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT. Defendants' [52] Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Plaintiffs' [41] Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED. All other pending motions (such as the Objection to Magistrate Judge's Order Pending Discovery, ECF No. [15] ) are hereby DENIED as MOOT. All issues before the Court are now resolved and the Clerk of Court is directed to close this case. By Judge Raymond P. Moore on 12/23/2014. (alowe)
  9. CO 1:2014cv02784San Juan Citizens Alliance, Inc. v. Bureau of Land Management
    • December 24, 2014: ORDER that on Monday, December 29, 2014, counsel for the parties will be contacted to set a date and time for a hearing on the motions to extend time and Mr. Wu shall inform the United States Attorney John Walsh of the need for this hearing and the need for his personal appearance at the hearing to explain the assignment of this matter within his office, by Judge Richard P. Matsch on 12/24/2014. (evana, )
    • January 5, 2015: ORDER Upon review of the expedited joint motion to withdraw several motions Docs. [7] , [16] , [17] , and [18] and vacate the January 7, 2015, hearing [23] , it is ORDERED that the motion is granted. It is FURTHER ORDERED that the Defendant shall file an answer to the Complaint on or before January 21, 2015. The Court will set a scheduling conference upon notice of availability of counsel, by Judge Richard P. Matsch on 1/5/2015.(evana, )
    • January 8, 2015: ORDER that a scheduling conference will be held on February 12, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in the Conference Room, Second Floor, the Byron White United States Courthouse, 1823 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado, by Judge Richard P. Matsch on 1/8/2015. (evana, )
  10. DC 1:2013cv00840AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION v. EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR IMMIGRATION REVIEW et al
    • December 24, 2014: MEMORANDUM AND OPINION re: Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [16] and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment [20] Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 12/24/2014. (lccrc2, ) (Main Document 30 replaced on 12/24/2014) (zmac, ).
  11. DC 1:2013cv01808RAJKOVIC v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION et al
    • December 24, 2014: MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan on 12/24/14. (ms, )
  12. DC 1:2013cv01972DAVIS v. UNITED STATES POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE
    • December 15, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION re [8] Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment; [13] Plaintiffs Motion for Appointment of Counsel. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 12/15/2014. (lccrc1, )
  13. DC 1:2014cv00269NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS v. EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS et al
    • December 18, 2014: MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on 12/18/2014.(lcckk3)
  14. DC 1:2014cv01397ELIAS YUNES v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al
    • January 5, 2015: MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge John D. Bates on 1/5/15. (lcjdb1)
  15. DC 1:2014cv01832FREEDOM WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE et al
    • January 8, 2015: MEMORANDUM OPINION re [45] Order on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 01/08/15. (lcjeb3)
  16. OR 3:2013cv00992Lewis v. Federal Aviation Administration et al
    • January 6, 2015: OPINION & ORDER: Defendants' motion for summary judgment [27] is granted in part and denied in part.Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment [30] is granted in part and denied in part. The claimsrelated to all FOIA requests except FOI A Request No. 2012-2082 and FOIA Request No. 2012-7031, are dismissed on Plaintiff's oral motion. Defendants' motion as to FOIA Request No. 2012-2081 is granted. Plaintiff's motion as to this same request is denied. Defendants' mo tion as to FOIA Request No. 2012-7031 is granted except as to the ROI. Plaintiff's motion as to FOIA Request No. 2012-7031 is denied except as to the ROI. Defendants shall submit a proposed redacted copy of the ROI to this Court in camera within ten days of the date of this Opinion & Order. See 27-page opinion & order attached. Ordered by Judge Marco A. Hernandez. (mr)
Jan 15 15

162 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by foiaproj

We have added 162 documents from 28 FOIA cases filed between December 14, 2014 and January 10, 2015. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. National Immigration Law Center v. United States Department of Homeland Security et al (filed Dec 17, 2014)
    The National Immigration Law Center submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning access to and use of DMV databases for immigration enforcement purposes. NILC also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. ICE acknowledged receipt of the request and denied NILC’s requests for expedited processing and a fee waiver. NILC filed an administrative appeal of the denial. Subsequently, ICE sent a letter to NILC indicating that it conducted a search, but could find no records. NILC then filed an administrative appeal of the no records decision. DHS acknowledged receipt of the request, denied expedited processing, but conditionally granted NILC’s request for a fee waiver. However, after hearing nothing further from DHS, NILC filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  2. Broga v. Defense (filed Dec 16, 2014)
    Kara Broga, a trainee with the U.S. Army Reserve, was sexually assaulted by her drill sergeant at Fort Dix in 1991. She left the base twice without authorization. She was subsequently separated from the military and asked for a criminal investigation of her drill sergeant. She eventually filed a FOIA request for the investigation report and other reports of sexual assault against the drill sergeant. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after Broga was told that it was still being reviewed in the main FOIA office, she filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Dec 17, 2014)
    The American Association of Women submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning the agency’s decision not to inform Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca of the existence of a federal investigation of allegations of prisoner abuse or brutality. The FBI denied the Association’s request under Exemption 7(A) (ongoing investigation or proceeding). The Association appealed to OIP, but after hearing nothing further, the Association filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Exemption 7(A), Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed Dec 17, 2014)
    The Competitive Enterprise Institute submitted three FOIA requests to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for records concerning tax credits available under the Affordable Care Act. CEI also requested a fee waiver for each request. The agency acknowledged receipt of the three requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the CEI filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  5. OLSEN v. US DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (filed Dec 17, 2014)
    Ken Olsen, a journalist who writes about veterans affairs for the American Legion Magazine, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Veterans Affairs for records concerning the amounts of bonuses paid to VA executives from 2001-2014. The agency indicated that its records pertaining to executive bonuses went back only to 2009. Olsen filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, he filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. Shortall et al v. Baltimore District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (filed Dec 16, 2014)
    Purnell and Mary Ann Shortall submitted a FOIA request to the Baltimore District Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for records concerning a specific property in Cordova, MD. The Baltimore District Office told the Shortalls that their request had been granted, but the records never arrived. The Shortalls then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Sanctions
  7. Taitz v. Burwell (filed Dec 18, 2014)
    Orly Taitz submitted a FOIA request to the Centers for Disease Control for records concerning the ongoing case of Taitz v. Johnson. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further, Taitz filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Vaughn index
  8. MCDOWELL v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Dec 15, 2014)
    Gregory McDowell, an employee of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, submitted a FOIA request to EPA for an Inspector General’s report of the results of an investigation based on McDowell’s complaint that the agency had used false allegations against him after he had testified in another agent’s EEO case. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but although there were further back and further email exchanges, the agency had not provided a response to the request. McDowell submitted a second FOIA request for a memo sent by his supervisor to the Office of the U.S. Attorney in five districts, which McDowell claimed had impaired his ability to work effectively. The agency acknowledged the receipt of the request and denied access under Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege). McDowell filed an administrative appeal, but heard nothing further. McDowell then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. Burke v. Colvin et al (filed Dec 16, 2014)
    James Burke, an administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration in Albuquerque, submitted a FOIA request to the SSA for records concerning all FOIA requests made to the agency pertaining to Burke. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Burke filed suit
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  10. Boatner v. National Personnel Records Center (filed Dec 22, 2014)
    Dennis Boatner submitted a FOIA request to the National Personnel Records Center for medical records concerning his son Jeremy, who served in the Navy and died as a result of surgery in 1995. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and asked for clarifying information, which Boatner supplied. After hearing nothing further, Boatner filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. CORLEY v. HOLDER et al (filed Dec 22, 2014)
    Royce Corley submitted a FOIA request to the Justice Department for records concerning his conviction for sex trafficking. After hearing nothing further after six months, he filed an appeal. After hearing nothing further, Corley filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  12. GOLDSTEIN v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (filed Dec 23, 2014)
    Richard Goldstein submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records concerning his status as the heir of the state of his father, Samuel Goldstein. The agency ultimately responded with a CD containing 4,028 pages. The agency withheld 1,700 pages under Exemption 3 (other statutes). It also withheld information under Exemption 5 (privileges) and Exemption 7(D) (confidential sources). Goldstein appealed the agency’s decision and the agency upheld its denial. Goldstein then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 3, Exemption 7(D)
  13. GOLDSTEIN v. TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION (filed Dec 23, 2014)
    Richard Goldstein submitted a FOIA request to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for records about his status as heir to his father’s estate, including records pertaining to an investigation of alleged tax fraud on the part of the attorneys who set up the estate. The agency ultimately provided Goldstein with 4,028 pages, withholding 1,700 pages under Exemption 3 (other statutes). The agency also invoked Exemption 5 (privileges) and Exemption 7(D) (confidential sources). Further, TIGTA indicated that it would neither confirm nor deny the existence of records on third parties. Goldstein appealed the decision, which was upheld. Goldstein the filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  14. Delaittre v. Social Security Administration (filed Dec 23, 2014)
    David Delaittre, a regional chief administrative law judge at the Social Security Administration, submitted a FOIA request to the agency for records concerning his employment. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from agency, Delaittre filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  15. STOTTER v. UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT et al (filed Dec 21, 2014)
    Daniel Stotter submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Agency for International Development for records concerning funding for Pakistan-based media projects. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and provided an interim response containing 213 pages. Stotter asked to defer his appeal until USAID had completed its response. The agency agreed, but Stotter heard nothing further from the agency. Stotter submitted a FOIA request to the State Department for records concerning funding for Pakistan-based media projects. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Stotter the request was still open, but provided no further response. Stotter also submitted a request to the Broadcasting Board of Governors for records concerning funding for Pakistan-based media projects. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and based on an initial indication that there were 8,000 responsive pages, asked Stotter for $18,000 in advance payment. The agency later told Stotter that after reviewing many of the records they were not responsive to his request and that the agency was continuing to process the request. However, after hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, Stotter filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  16. Ramey v. Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve (filed Dec 22, 2014)
    Ryan Ramey, a prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Reserve for records. The agency asked for a clarification, which Ramey provided. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Ramey filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  17. CADDELL et al v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA et al (filed Dec 23, 2014)
    Eddie Caddell, Kryzstof Jaje and Stanley Prenenski were injured in an industrial accident at a plant operated by Sun Chemical Corporation. The three submitted a FOIA request to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for records concerning the cause of the accident. The agency provided a copy of its investigation report, but withheld some information under Exemption 4 (confidential business information) and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). The three appealed, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, they filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  18. LEOPOLD et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Dec 24, 2014)
    Journalist Jason Leopold and researcher Ryan Shapiro submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning the investigation of allegations that the CIA had hacked into computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee. They asked for expedited processing and a fee waiver. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Leopold and Shapiro filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  19. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Dec 30, 2014)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI and BATF for records concerning the agencies’ involvement in an investigation of an apartment building explosion in Minneapolis. The FBI and BATF acknowledged receipt of the request. The FBI said it was unable to find any records. Judicial Watch appealed the decision to OIP, which upheld the FBI’s search. BATF sent Judicial Watch one page indicating the FBI was monitoring the investigation. Judicial Watch then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  20. LEOPOLD v. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY (filed Jan 1, 2015)
    Journalist Jason Leopold submitted a FOIA request to the Office of Assets Control at the Department of Treasury for the first 25 pages of each license application since 2013 for a number of countries. He also requested a fee waiver. OFAC contacted Leopold and asked him to narrow the request to cover only North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Somalia and Syria and to further narrow the request as it pertained to Iran. Leopold agreed to narrow his request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, he filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  21. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Jan 2, 2015)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning the bilateral memo of understanding between the U.S. and Qatar to accept five Guantanamo detainees in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  22. Brozzo v. U.S. Department of Education (filed Dec 29, 2014)
    Francis Brozzo submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Education for records concerning loan reimbursement claims by Key Bank to the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation pertaining to Brozzo’s educational loans. The agency provided several pages and Brozzo filed an appeal. The agency acknowledged receipt of the appeal, but after hearing nothing further, Brozzo filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Sanctions
  23. FOREST COUNTY POTAWATOMI COMMUNITY v. SALLY JEWEL et al (filed Dec 29, 2014)
    The Forest County Potawatomi Community submitted a total of 10 FOIA requests to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for records concerning the Menominee Tribe’s application to the United States to acquire land in trust in Kenosha, Wisconsin for gaming purposes. The agency provided some responsive records but withheld a large number of records under Exemption 4 (confidential business information). The Community alleged that the agency’s disclosure of records to the State of Wisconsin waived any privilege for confidential business information. The Community ultimately filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 4 – Confidential business information
  24. MISSOURI COALITION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT v. UNITED STATES ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS (filed Dec 29, 2014)
    The Missouri Coalition for the Environment submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for records concerning certain permits issued by the Corps under the Clean Water Act. The Coalition was allowed to review 13 permits but the agency withheld three permits entirely under Exemption 5 (privileges). The Coalition filed an appeal, but after hearing nothing further, it filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 5, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  25. Turner v. United States Department of the Treasury (filed Jan 5, 2015)
    Bruce Turner, a prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Treasury for financial records concerning himself. The agency responded that if its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network had any records they would be exempt under the Bank Secrecy Act. Turner appealed and the agency upheld its denial. Turner then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 3 – Statutory prohibition of disclosure
  26. ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT LEGAL INSTITUTE et al v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (filed Jan 5, 2015)
    The Energy & Environment Legal Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Energy for records concerning a cooperative research and development agreement between the agency and the Mississippi Power Company pertaining to the Kemper County Energy Facility located in Mississippi. The Institute also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Institute filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  27. MARCK et al v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES et al (filed Jan 5, 2015)
    David Marck of the law firm of Sills Cummis & Gross, submitted FOIA requests to the FBI and the FDA on behalf of Anne Cocchiola, whose husband Mark Cocchiola is currently in federal prison. The request to the FBI was for records concerning a number of named individuals and companies involved in the investigation and conviction of Mark Cocchiola. The FBI initially refused to process the requests without privacy waivers, but agreed to process the requests concerning companies. The agency then indicated that it was withholding some records under Exemption 7(A) (interference with ongoing investigation or proceeding). It did not respond to the requests pertaining to some other companies. Marck appealed the decision and the FBI upheld its denial. The request to the FDA also requested information on a number of companies and individuals. The FDA provided 481 pages, but withheld 113 pages primarily under Exemption 4 (confidential business information) and Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques). Marck appealed the denial, but after the agency failed to respond, he filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 4, Exemption 7(A) – Interference with ongoing investigation, Exemption 7(E) – Investigative methods or techniques, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  28. CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY v. BUREAU OF SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENFORCEMENT et al (filed Jan 8, 2015)
    The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement concerning the extent of off-shore fracking in the Gulf of Mexico and the Bureau’s role in permitting this activity. BSEE acknowledged receipt of the request but the Center heard nothing further from the agency. The Center submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for the same information. BOEM acknowledged receipt of the request, but the Center heard nothing further from that agency and filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
Dec 22 14

FOIA Suits Jump In 2014

by Greg Munno

More freedom of information lawsuits were brought against the federal government in fiscal year 2014 than in any year since at least 2001, according to a new analysis of court records by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

A total of 422 Freedom of Information Act suits were filed in federal district court last year compared with 372 in FY 2013 and 387 in FY 2005, the next highest year since 2001. These counts represent all cases where the nature of suit is listed as FOIA, the law that requires federal agencies to disclose records to any person making a written request unless the records fall into one of nine categories of exemption.

Figure 1. FOIA Lawsuits Filed
(Click here for the interactive lawsuit app)

The number of suits filed in federal district court in which the nature of suit is listed as FOIA, for FY 2001 through FY 2014

The number of suits filed in federal district court in which the nature of suit is listed as FOIA, for FY 2001 through FY 2014

The types of people and organizations bringing FOIA suits are diverse and go well beyond the news media, who are sometimes assumed to be the leading users of FOIA. In fact, The New York Times is the only legacy news organization that brought FOIA suits in FY 2014, with five or six suits, depending on how they are counted. Reporter Charlie Savage is the co-plaintiff in four of those suits. Times reporter Michael Schmidt is co-plaintiff with the paper in the fifth suit. The Times’ Mac William Bishop and Christopher Chivers also brought a FOIA suit in FY 2014 in which they are represented by the paper’s lawyers, although the Times is not listed as a plaintiff. [Documents from all the cases mentioned in this report can be found using the FOIA Project Case Search.]

David McCraw, the Times’ vice president and assistant general counsel, said FOIA was crucial to the paper’s work. “Simply,” he said, “we feel that using this law is an essential part of our mission.”

TRAC issued a report in 2013 on traditional news media’s use of FOIA lawsuits, finding that from FY 2005 through FY 2012, traditional media brought between three and nine FOIA suits a year.

Some newer media organizations and individual reporters are joining the ranks of FOIA filers. For instance, Jason Leopold, a reporter with VICE News, filed eight FOIA suits in FY 2014. Shane Bauer, a reporter for Mother Jones, filed two suits, which the FOIA Project wrote about in a Case Spotlight. Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson also brought a FOIA suit on her own in FY 2014. Neither Mother Jones nor VICE News were listed as parties in the Bauer or Leopold suits, although Leopold said VICE News has been backing his cases since he became a staff writer there in August.

Also bringing suit in FY 2014 were ProPublica, Muckrock, and the company that publishes of the Washington Examiner. BuzzFeed is among the new media organizations that has brought suit early in FY 2015.

Leopold said that filing FOIA requests has been a regular part of his work as a journalist, first as a freelancer for prominent news outlets, and now for VICE News. He said he is suing more for records than he used to, and finds that agencies are becoming less responsive to FOIA requests. He has already filed seven additional FOIA suits in the first first few months of 2015.

“I try to be strategic about it,” he said. “Before I joined VICE News, I was literally fronting the cost of these cases on my credit card. I would work-out agreements with news organizations to recoup those costs if I got the documents, so I had to be pretty sure the documents were not exempt.”

Leopold said he has always been surprised by how little FOIA is actually used by journalists. “I often hear that it just takes too much time to get the records,” he said. He combats the delay by focusing on stories import enough that they will rise to the level of news regardless of when he wins the records release. He also builds a pipeline of requests so that he is always receiving records. And if an agency does not respond to him in 20 days,he sues right away, particularly if he is after documents he suspects the agency will not ultimately turn over without a fight.

Leopold remarked on something the FOIA Project also found in examining the lawsuits filed in FY 2014: advocacy groups of various stripes file FOIA suits more often than media. Judicial Watch, for instance, which describes itself as “a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation,” filed more FOIA suits in FY 2014 than anyone, with 34 suits in which it is the plaintiff, and several others on which it is serving as counsel.

Up next would be various chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, with a combined FY 2014 total of 10 FOIA suits, the Electronic Privacy Information Center with 7 suits, and the Energy & Environment Legal Institute and Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, both with 6.

Chris Farrell, director of Research and Investigation for Judicial Watch, said one of the reasons the organization sues so frequently is simply a matter of volume: the organization currently has 2,800 pending open government requests and lawsuits at both the federal and states levels.

“The other reason is that sometimes suing is simply the only way to get the agency to pay attention a request,” Farrell said. He said that’s not true of every agency, and praised the Department of Transportation for being particularly responsive.

Who are the defendants in these suits? The Department of Justice tops the list – as it has done in every year for which the FOIA Project has records. It also had the largest jump in the number of suits filed – from 83 in FY 2013 to 121 in FY 2014. On average, Justice has been hit with 81 FOIA suits a year over the 14 years of data compiled by the FOIA Project. It has been sued under FOIA 101 times per year over the last five fiscal years. Its previous highs were 109 in both FY 2011 and 2012.

The numbers for Justice include its suborganizations, such as the FBI. Knowing exactly what government entity the plaintiff has issue with is difficult because suits often only list the department-level organization, such as Justice, and not the sub-level organization, such as the FBI.

The unit withholding the records was explicitly named as a defendant in 51 of the 121 suits filed against the Justice Department or one of its suborganizations. For these, the FBI was named as a defendant in 21 suits, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys in 16, the Office of Information Policy in 13, and the Drug Enforcement Administration in 10. (Note: Because more than one agency can be sued in the same lawsuit, these numbers add to more than the total of 51.)

The Department of Defense, which had the next highest number of FOIA cases, also showed a sizable jump – from 38 in FY 2013 to 54 during FY 2014. This pushed DOD into second place, surpassing the number of suits filed against the Department of Homeland Security, which was hit with 49 FOIA suits in FY 2014 and 48 in FY 2013.

In FY 2014, specific DOD suborganizations were named in 26 suits, including the Army (named in 10 suits), the National Security Agency (9), and the Navy (5). Specific Homeland Security suborganizations were named 23 times, including Customs and Border Protection (named in 17 suits), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (7), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (5).

About the FOIA Project; About the Data and About this Report

The above analysis is based on federal district court records available at foiaproject.org. This unique website is updated daily and at last count contained more than 22,127 court documents from 6,140 district and appellate court FOIA-related cases.

Please read this important discussion for data definitions and more information about how the FOIA Project captures and processes court records. Two considerations more specific to this report worth mentioning are that (1) entities sued frequently under FOIA typically receive lots of FOIA requests, so the frequency at which they are sued is not necessarily reflective of their compliance with the law, and (2) as we can see in Figure 1, there is a lot of year-to-year fluctuation in the number of FOIA suits filed, so it is unclear whether FY 2014’s increase is evidence of a new trend. As previously reported by the FOIA Project, it appears that FOIA lawsuits have increased during the Obama administration over the levels during the last term of President Bush.

The FOIA Project is administered by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan data research center that is a joint center of the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. The project depends upon volunteers, gifts, and grants, and its supporters have included the CS Fund/Warsh-Mott Legacy, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Fund, Atlantic Philanthropies, Stewart Mott Foundation, OpentheGovernment.Org, William B. Wiener Jr. Foundation, JRS Dryfoos Charitable Lead Trust, and the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation.

Dec 18 14

FOIA Activity: 5 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by foiaproj

We have added 5 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between December 6, 2014 and December 13, 2014. These are associated with 5 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAN 3:2010cv03759The American Civil Liberties Union of North California et al v. Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • December 10, 2014: JOINT STIPULATION AND ORDER AMENDING BRIEFING SCHEDULE. Signed by Judge Richard Seeborg on 12/10/14. (cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/10/2014)
  2. CAN 3:2011cv00846The Sierra Club et al v. United States Environmental Protection Agency
    • December 8, 2014: ORDER by Judge Maria-Elena James granting [77] Motion for Attorney Fees (cdnS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/8/2014)
  3. DC 1:2014cv00940PAWELSKI v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION et al
    • December 12, 2014: MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 12/12/14. (ms, )
  4. MOW 6:2013cv03380Marks v. United States Department of Justice
    • December 11, 2014: ORDER AND OPINION (1) GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND (2) DIRECTING DEFENDANT TO TO SHOW CAUSE WHY JUDGMENT SHOULD NOT BE ENTERED IN PLAINTIFF'S FAVOR [23] motion to dismiss case. Signed on 12/11/14 by District Judge Ortrie D. Smith. (Order mailed to Plaintiff.) (Matthes, Renea)
  5. NYS 1:2013cv00942Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. United States Department of Interior et al
    • December 11, 2014: OPINION & ORDER #105065 re: [73] MOTION for Summary Judgment on Government's Withholding of Qualitative Analyses Under FOIA Exemption 5. filed by Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., [82] MOTION for Summary Judgment Regarding FO IA Exemption 5 Withholdings. filed by United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management. For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby grants the Government's motion for summary judgment as to the FOIA Exemption 5 claims. The Clerk of Court is respectfully directed to terminate all pending motions and to close this case. (Signed by Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on 12/11/2014) (djc) Modified on 12/15/2014 (ca).
Dec 18 14

30 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by foiaproj

We have added 30 documents from 5 FOIA cases filed between December 7, 2014 and December 13, 2014. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. John Edmond v. United States Department of Justice Office of Information Policy (filed Dec 8, 2014)
    John Edmond submitted a FOIA request for investigative records about himself from the DEA. The agency responded that it could find no records. Edmond appealed the agency’s decision to the Office of Information Policy. OIP upheld DEA’s decision. Edmond then filed suit.
    Issues: Withholding not related to exemption claims
  2. RENNE v. UNITED STATES OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL (filed Dec 8, 2014)
    James Renne submitted a FOIA request to the Office of Special Counsel for a report the agency had prepared that included information about events that took place early on during Renne’s employment with the agency. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Renne filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. CITIZENS UNITED v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Dec 10, 2014)
    Citizens United submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for passenger manifests and travel expenses for a number of Special Air Mission flights taken by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Citizens United also requested expedited processing. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and denied Citizens United’s request for expedited processing. Citizens United filed an administrative appeal of the agency’s denial of expedited processing. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Citizens United filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. Reyes v. Defense (filed Dec 11, 2014)
    Andres Reyes submitted a FOIA request to the Marines Corps for records concerning its decision to discharge him with a less than honorable discharge. Reyes also submitted a FOIA request to the Navy’s Judge Advocate General for records concerning the investigation that led to his court-martial. After hearing nothing further concerning either request, Reyes filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. CENTER FOR DIGITAL DEMOCRACY v. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION (filed Dec 11, 2014)
    The Center for Digital Democracy submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Trade Commission for records concerning annual reports submitted under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act rule, such as reports on safe harbor programs. The Center also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and indicated that it would not be able to respond within 20 days. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Center filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
Dec 11 14

FOIA Activity: 10 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by foiaproj

We have added 10 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between November 30, 2014 and December 6, 2014. These are associated with 10 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAN 3:1999cv01825TPS Inc. v. Dept of Defense, et al
    • December 3, 2014: NOTICE OF REFERENCE AND ORDER RE BREIFING SCHEDULE re [59] MOTION to Compel filed by Richard Snyder. Opposition/ Responses due by 12/8/2014. Replies due by 12/15/2014. Court will determine if a hearing is necessary after the reply brief has been filed. Signed by Judge Joseph C. Spero on 12/3/14. (klhS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/3/2014) Modified on 12/4/2014 (jlmS, COURT STAFF).
  2. CAN 3:2014cv02166American Small Business League v. Department of Defense
    • December 3, 2014: ORDER RE [31] MOTION TO STAY PENDING APPEAL DETERMINATION BY SOLICITOR GENERAL.(whalc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/3/2014)
  3. CAN 4:2012cv00164Electronic Frontier Foundation v. U.S. Department of Transportation
    • December 5, 2014: ORDER GRANTING [48] STIPULATION of Dismissal with Prejudice DISMISSING CASE. Signed by Judge Claudia Wilken on 12/5/2014. (ndr, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/5/2014)
  4. CAN 4:2012cv05581Electronic Frontier Foundation v. U.S. Department of Transportation
    • December 5, 2014: ORDER [32] STIPULATION of Dismissal with Prejudice. Signed by Judge Claudia Wilken on 12/5/2014. (ndr, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/5/2014)
  5. DC 1:2012cv01433GAGNON v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION et al
    • December 3, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting [31] Plaintiff's motion to expand the record; granting [33] Defendants' motion for leave to file supplemental declaration out of time; denying [34] Plaintiff's motion for leave to pursue discovery and an order for production; granting [35] Plaintiff's motion to file attached documents under seal; giving Plaintiff until January 12, 2015, to respond to Defendants' supplemental filing (see attached order for details). Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 12/3/14.(ah) Modified on 12/4/2014 (zgdf, ).
  6. DC 1:2013cv01091MEZERHANE GOSEN v. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES
    • December 4, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION granting in part and denying in part Defendant's [17] Motion for Summary Judgment and denying Plaintiff's [20] Cross Motion for Summary Judgment. See attached document for details. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 12/4/2014. (lckbj3)
  7. DC 1:2014cv01264100REPORTERS LLC v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
    • December 3, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION granting [13] Siemens's Motion to Intervene; and granting [17] Dr. Waigel's Motion to Intervene. See document for details. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 12/3/2014. (lcrc3)
  8. LAM 3:2014cv00671Williams v. U.S. Goverment et al
    • December 2, 2014: RULING: A review of the record shows that more than 21 days has elapsed from the date of the Order to pay the Court's filing fee. Despite clear notice that he must pay the full filing fee and having had ample time to do so, the Plaintiff has failed to pay the filing fee. Therefore, the Plaintiffs § 1983 Complaint shall be dismissed. Judgment shall be entered accordingly. Signed by Judge Shelly D. Dick on 12/2/2014. (LLH) Modified on 12/4/2014 to edit text (LLH).
  9. OHS 1:2012cv00959Kohake v. Department of Treasury
    • December 1, 2014: ORDER granting [12] Motion for Summary Judgment; The Clerk is directed to file under seal two in camera documents the Court has deemed to be properly withheld. Signed by Judge Michael R. Barrett on 11/28/14. (ba1)
  10. WIE 2:2014cv01430Hoeller v. Social Security Administration
    • December 1, 2014: ORDER signed by Judge Lynn Adelman on 12/1/14 granting [2] Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. Further ordering that the U.S. Marshals Service shall serve a copy of the complaint, a waiver of service form and/or the summons, and this order upon defendant. (cc: via USPS to plaintiff) (dm)
Dec 11 14

53 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by foiaproj

We have added 53 documents from 10 FOIA cases filed between November 30, 2014 and December 6, 2014. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. BUZZFEED, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (filed Dec 2, 2014)
    Aram Roston, a reporter for Buzzfeed, submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Central Command, a component of the Department of Defense, for records concerning complaints or allegations of misuse of force or brutality against detainees. The agency acknowledged Roston’s request and told him it was placed in the media category, but that at present it was too broad to process. After hearing nothing further from Central Command, Buzzfeed filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. SAFARI CLUB INTERNATIONAL v. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE (filed Dec 3, 2014)
    Safari Club International submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for records concerning the agency’s enhancement of survival finding made for the importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe in 2014. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but told Safari Club International that a new FOIA Officer had just begun at the agency and while she was making sure all requests were acknowledged, things were in a state flux. Despite repeated emails trying to get information concerning the processing of the request, the agency failed to provide a substantive response within the statutory time limit and Safari Club filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. Williams et al v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District (filed Dec 3, 2014)
    Jason Williams, representing EJF Plus, submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, for all records in its file concerning a finding by the agency that a piece of property owned by EJF Plus was in violation of the Clean Water Act because of sludge being dumped into a wetland area. The agency partially denied the request under Exemption 7(A) (ongoing investigation or proceeding) withholding a total of 176 documents and 58 photographs. Williams appealed the denial and after the agency failed to respond within the statutory time limit, Williams filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. Public Record Media v. U.S. Department of the Interior (filed Dec 4, 2014)
    Public Record Media submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Land Management for communications submitted by companies or their employees supporting a copper/sulfide mining proposal. The agency did not acknowledge Public Record Media’s request and it filed an administrative appeal, which also went unanswered. Public Record Media then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. United States Department of Agriculture et al (filed Dec 4, 2014)
    The Natural Resources Defense Council submitted a FOIA request to the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the Department of Agriculture for records concerning the agency’s inspection of Foster Farms’ facilities and the company’s application for approval of label claims for its chicken products. NRDC also requested a fee waiver. The agency provided two interim responses of 300 pages each, but after hearing nothing further pertaining to the processing of its request or whether its fee waiver request would be granted, NRDC filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. Stone v. McKeague et al (filed Dec 4, 2014)
    Rick Stone submitted three FOIA requests to Kelly McKeague, commanding office of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, for records concerning data on servicemen missing in action. The agency failed to acknowledge receipt of any of the three requests and Stone filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  7. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY REGION 9 (filed Dec 5, 2014)
    PEER submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning communications between agency employees, Senate staffers, and members of the Malibu city council pertaining to possible toxic contamination of school buildings in the Malibu Santa Monica School District. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, granted PEER a fee waiver, and took a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further pertaining to a substantive response to its request, PEER filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. JACKSON & MacNICHOL et al v. MCDONALD (filed Dec 5, 2014)
    The law firm of Jackson & MacNichol submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Veterans Affairs for the claims file of their client, Joseph Viola. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing from further from the agency, Jackson & MacNichol filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP v. United States Securities and Exchange Commission (filed Dec 5, 2014)
    The law firm of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd submitted a FOIA request to the SEC for records concerning the agency’s investigation, transactions, offers and orders concerning the law firm’s client Lionsgate. The agency responded to the request by denying it in full under Exemption 7(A) (ongoing investigation or proceeding). The law firm appealed the agency’s denial, which the agency upheld. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd then filed suit.
    Issues: Determination – Glomar response, Exemption 7(A) – Interference with ongoing investigation, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  10. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. United States Enviornmental Protection Agency (filed Dec 5, 2014)
    The Natural Resources Defense Council submitted two FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning the agency’s implementation of two provisions of the Clean Water Act. NRDC also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of both requests and granted NRDC a fee waiver. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency pertaining to either request, NRDC filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
Dec 4 14

FOIA Activity: 10 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by foiaproj

We have added 10 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between November 16, 2014 and November 29, 2014. These are associated with 10 FOIA cases pending in federal district court. Note that because there can be delays between the date a decision is made and when it shows up on PACER, this listing includes only decisions that appeared on PACER during this period.

Click on the date to view the full text of the decision. Click on a case title below to view other details for that case, including links to the docket report and complaint.

  1. CAE 2:2013cv02204Laborers International Union of North America Pacific Soutohwest Region v. U.S. Department of Energy
    • November 21, 2014: STIPULATION and ORDER [26] to allow filing of oversized document signed by Chief Judge Morrison C. England, Jr on 11/20/2014. The Court will allow defendant to file Reply Brief by 11/18/2014 and to occupy up to 15 pages as an exception to 10-page limit set on Court's website. (Marciel, M)
  2. CAN 3:2013cv02789Public.Resource.org v. United States Internal Revenue Service
    • November 18, 2014: ORDER AND ORDER RESCHEDULING HEARING ON PARTIES' CROSS-MOITONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT granting [57] STIPULATION WITH PROPOSED ORDER. Hearing re [46] , [47] MOTION for Summary Judgment continued to 1/14/2015 02:00 PM in Courtroom 2, 17th Floor, San Francisco before Hon. William H. Orrick. Signed by Judge William H. Orrick on 11/18/2014. (jmdS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/18/2014)
  3. CAN 3:2014cv02166American Small Business League v. Department of Defense
    • November 23, 2014: ORDER DENYING [18] , [20] CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT. (whalc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/23/2014).
  4. CAN 3:2014cv04365Our Children's Earth Foundation et al v. National Marine Fisheries Service et al
    • November 19, 2014: STIPULATION AND ORDER Setting Briefing Schedule for Cross Motions for Summary Judgment. Set/Reset Deadlines as to [12] MOTION for Summary Judgment. Responses due by 12/5/2014. Replies due by 12/19/2014. Motion Hearing set for 1/9/2015 10:00 AM in Courtroom 1, 17th Floor, San Francisco before Hon. Samuel Conti. Signed by Judge Samuel Conti on 11/19/2014. (tmi, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/19/2014)
  5. CAN 4:2012cv05580Electronic Frontier Foundation v. Department of Homeland Security
    • November 18, 2014: ORDER by Judge Hamilton granting [42] Motion for Attorney Fees (pjhlc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/18/2014)
  6. CO 1:2014cv03148Rock Creek Alliance et al v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    • November 25, 2014: ORDER Scheduling Conference set for 1/27/2015 09:30 AM in Courtroom A 502 before Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe, by Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe on 11/25/2014. (emill)
  7. DC 1:2014cv00969PRISOLOGY v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS
    • November 17, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 11/17/2014. (lcabj2)
  8. ILS 3:2014cv00908Henson v. Department of Health and Human Services et al
    • November 20, 2014: ORDER DENYING [28] MOTION for Instruction from the Court filed by J. Donald Henson, Sr., DENYING [27] MOTION for Reconsideration re 22 Order on Motion for Miscellaneous Relief,Order on Motion to Compel filed by J. Donald Henson, Sr. Answer due deadlines VACATED. Signed by Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson on 11/20/14. (sgp)
  9. MD 8:2014cv02245Reaves v. Jewell
    • November 26, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION (c/m to Plaintiff 11/26/14 sat). Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 11/26/2014. (sat, Chambers)
  10. OHS 2:2014cv00986Harper v. Department of the Army Huntington District, Corps of Engineers
    • November 24, 2014: OPINION AND ORDER denying [2] Motion to Compel Preparation of a Vaughn Index. Signed by Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King on 11/24/2014. (pes1)