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Oct 24 14

61 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by foiaproj

We have added 58 documents from 11 FOIA cases filed between October 12, 2014 and October 18, 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. Pebble Limited Partnership v. United States Environmental Protection Agency (filed Oct 14, 2014)
    Peeble Limited Partnership submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning the Peeble Mine Project and the agency’s Bristol Bay Assessment. The agency provided an interim response by posting 14 documents to its FOIA website. The agency later posted 559 documents, many of them heavily redacted, to its FOIA website and closed the request. The agency also provided a chart indicating that the redactions were primarily made under Exemption 5 (privileges). Peeble Limited Partnership filed an administrative appeal and the agency indicated it would take time to respond. Peeble Limited then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 5 – Privileges, Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  2. Franklin v. State of Illinois Department of Adminstrative Hearing (filed Oct 14, 2014)
    Charles Edward Franklin submitted a request to the Illinois Department of Administrative Hearings for information he needed in order to have his driving privileges reinstated. When the Department failed to respond, he filed suit. Although Franklin may have a cause of action under Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act, he does not have a claim under the federal FOIA.
  3. Buckley et al v. Amos et al (filed Oct 15, 2014)
    Gregory Buckley, Jr., a Marine stationed in Afghanistan, was murdered at the U.S. base by an Afghani. Although the family was promised that the incident would be investigated, Gregory Buckley, Sr. and Mary Liz Grosseto finally submitted a FOIA request to the Marine Corps for information about the investigation. After getting no substantive response from the agency, they filed suit
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  4. GOODWIN v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS (filed Oct 16, 2014)
    Walter Goodwin, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Prisons for a copy of a videotape of an incident of alleged excessive force that occurred at the psychology department office at the federal penitentiary at Tucson. The agency denied the request under Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques) and Exemption 7(F) (harm to an individual). Goodwin appealed to the Office of Information Policy, which upheld BOP’s denial. Goodwin then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 7(E) – Investigative methods or techniques, Exemption 7(F) – Harm to safety of any person
  5. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (filed Oct 16, 2014)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Communications Commission for records related to the Multi-Market Critical Information Needs study to be conducted by the FCC. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  6. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed Oct 16, 2014)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning a Request for Information/Sources Sought solicitation seeking escort services for unaccompanied alien children. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  7. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE (filed Oct 16, 2014)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Secret Service for records concerning government funds used to provide security for President Obama and his companions on a July 2014 trip to Denver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  8. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Oct 16, 2014)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records produced by the Diplomatic Security Command Center between September 10 and September 13, 2012 related to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  9. Stephen Yagman v. John Owen Brennan et al (filed Oct 17, 2014)
    Stephen Yagman submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for records identifying individuals or entities referred to by President Obama when he said “we” had tortured people during the fight against terrorism. The agency did not provide a response to Yagman’s request and he filed suit. Yagman also filed a class action suit as the representative of an estimated 50 individuals who also wanted to know the identity of “we” in Obama’s comments.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  10. ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT LEGAL INSTITUTE et al v. FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION (filed Oct 17, 2014)
    The Energy & Environmental Legal Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for records concerning Constellation Energy and its attempt to merge with Exelon Corporation. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. The agency ultimately released parts of some records, withholding records under Exemption 4 (confidential business information), Exemption 5 (privileges) and Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). EELI appealed the denial and the agency disclosed several more pages, but otherwise upheld the denial. EELI then filed another appeal of the subsequent denial and the agency upheld the denial. EELI then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 4 – Confidential business information, Exemption 5 – Privileges, Exemption 6 – Invasion of privacy, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  11. Stevens v. Department of Homeland Security Immigration & Customs Enforcement (filed Oct 17, 2014)
    Jacqueline Stevens, a professor of political science at Northwestern, submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning the operation of the Aurora, Colorado Processing Center. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Stevens filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

In addition, we have added 3 documents from 1 case, with an earlier filing date, that has recently appeared on PACER.

  • Thuan Huy Ha v. US Department of Justice Executive Office for US Attorneys et al (filed Oct 7, 2014)
    Thuan Huy Ha submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for billing records of eight pharmacy benefit management companies. Both the FBI and EOUSA responded with 40 pages of computer printouts that were missing a number of data fields. Huy Ha appealed to the Office of Information Policy, which upheld the agency’s decision. Huy Ha then filed a second FOIA request for nine records that were part of the exhibitions from his trial. The agencies never responded and OIP rejected Huy Ha’s appeal because EOUSA had taken no action yet. Huy Ha then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
Oct 16 14

FOIA Activity: 7 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by foiaproj

We have added 7 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between October 5, 2014 and October 11, 2014. These are associated with 7 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. CAC 2:2013cv06890Munger Tolles & Olson LLP v. United States Department of the Army
    • October 6, 2014: ORDER RE: (1) SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEFING; (2) IN CAMERA REVIEW OF UNREDACTED DOCUMENTS by Judge Dean D. Pregerson: Defendant shall file with the Court unredacted copies of all produced documents in this case (apparently 32 in number), under seal and in ca mera, no later than 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 14, 2014, with courtesy copies delivered to chambers at the same time.Defendant shall file with the Court a supplement to its Vaughn Index describing all the documents (apparently six in number) that ha ve been withheld in their entirety.The supplement shall be filed no later than 12:00 p.m., Friday, October 10, 2014, with courtesy copies delivered to chambers at the same time.Both parties shall file a supplemental briefing, no longer than fifteen p ages under the provisions of the Local Rules, solely on the issue of harm to the competitive position of the third party.The supplemental briefings and any accompanying exhibits shall be filed no later than 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 14, 2014,with courtesy copies delivered to chambers at the same time. (lc). Modified on 10/6/2014. (lc).
  2. CAE 1:2013cv01122(PS) Leonard Brown v. U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration
    • October 7, 2014: ORDER GRANTING [21] Defendant's Request for an Extension of Time to File an Opposition to Plaintiff's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment and to File a Reply in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant shall submit its reply and opposition papers by no later than 10/24/2014. Order signed by Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto on 10/7/2014. (Timken, A)
  3. CAN 3:2013cv05439Bothwell v. Brennan
    • October 9, 2014: ORDER by Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley granting in part and deferring judgment in part [28] Motion for Summary Judgment (ahm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/9/2014) (Additional attachment(s) added on 10/9/2014: # 1 Certificate of Service) (ahm, COURT STAFF).
  4. CAN 4:2014cv01746Snyder v. Department of Defense et al
    • October 7, 2014: ORDER VACATING OCTOBER 16, 2014 HEARING. Signed by Judge Kandis A. Westmore on 10/07/2014. (kawlc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/7/2014) (Additional attachment(s) added on 10/8/2014: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (sisS, COURT STAFF).
  5. NYS 1:2011cv07562American Civil Liberties Union et al v. Federal Bureau of Investigation et al
    • October 6, 2014: MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. For the reasons in this Memorandum and Order, the Government's motion for summary judgment is granted and the ACLU's motion is denied with respect to the Government's Glomar response for responsive documents, if a ny, relating solely to the use of section 215 for bulk collection of information other than telephony metadata. The Government is directed to submit the remaining documents for in camera review by October 17, 2014. The Government is invited to make a further submission either reconsidering its determinations and proposing redactions or providing further support as to why these documents should be withheld in full. Any ruling on the remainder of the summary judgment motions is deferred pending this Court's review. Granting in part [84] Motion for Summary Judgment; Denying in part [90] Motion for Summary Judgment. (Signed by Judge William H. Pauley, III on 10/6/2014) (rjm)
  6. WAE 2:2013cv03067Community Association for Restoration of the Environment Inc v. United States Environmental Protection Agency
    • October 6, 2014: ORDER DISMISSING CASE. Pursuant to the parties stipulation, all claims and causes of action in this matter are DISMISSED with prejudice and without costs or fees to any party. The file is CLOSED. Signed by Judge Thomas O. Rice. (BF, Judicial Assistant)
  7. WIW 3:2014cv00369Ibeagwa v. United States of America (Internal Revenue Service)
    • October 6, 2014: ORDER that defendant Internal Revenue Service's [34] motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is DENIED. Plaintiff Christian Ibeagwa's [54] motion for leave to file a corrected surreply brief is GRANTED. Plaintiff's [57] "motion to take judicial notice" is DENIED. Signed by District Judge Barbara B. Crabb on 10/06/2014. (nln),(ps)
Oct 16 14

34 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by foiaproj

We have added 30 documents from 5 FOIA cases filed between October 5, 2014 and October 11, 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. Kachmar et al v. Department of Veterans Affairs Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (filed Oct 8, 2014)
    Kala Kachmar, a reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System for records concerning the delay in treatment at the facility. CAVHCS acknowledged receipt of the request and explained that it needed clearance from headquarters in Washington to release the requested documents. Kachmar followed up with a letter asking for expedited processing, but despite promises that the records would be released soon, after receiving no records from the agency, Kachmar filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  2. RUSSELL v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Oct 8, 2014)
    George Russell, who was making a film on computer security, submitted FOIA requests to the Justice Department, Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency for records concerning Andrew Auernheimer, a computer security professional who was prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. His conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. Although some agency components denied his expedited processing request, Russell had received no substantive response to his requests when he filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
  3. BAKER v. DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION (filed Oct 8, 2014)
    Mario Baker, a federal prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the Drug Enforcement Administration for records concerning third parties involved in his conviction. The agency told Baker that it would not process his request without authorization from the third parties. Baker appealed the agency’s decision to the Office of Information Policy, which upheld the agency’s decision. Baker then filed suit.
    Issues: Withholding not related to exemption claims
  4. Salomone v. Mills et al (filed Oct 9, 2014)
    William Salomone submitted a FOIA request to the Secret Service for records concerning the whereabouts of President Barack Obama on Sept. 12, 2012. The agency responded by indicating that there were no responsive records. Salomone then sent a letter to the agency asking whether it would provide any responsive information. Salomone then filed suit.
    Issues: Withholding not related to exemption claims
  5. San Juan Citizens Alliance, Inc. v. Bureau of Land Management (filed Oct 10, 2014)
    San Juan Citizens Alliance submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning the revised resource management/environmental assessment plan for Glade Run Recreation Area. Because the organization wanted the records for use in filing public comments, it requested the agency provide the records within 10 working days. The agency contacted SJCA to explain that responding to its request would take more than a year, although if the agency treated SJCA’s request for the revised plan as a separate request, it would take less time. SJCA wanted the agency to provide more details before it agreed, but although there were discussions back and forth, the agency had not responded by the time SJCA filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit

In addition, we have added 4 documents from 1 case, with an earlier filing date, that has recently appeared on PACER.

  • Chavez v. McDonald et al (filed Sep 30, 2014)
    Frances Munoz Chavez , a disabled veteran whose Social Security disability claim is pending, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Cheyenne Regional Benefit Office, for her claims file. After hearing nothing from the Cheyenne office, Chavez appealed to the VA’s General Counsel. After hearing nothing further from that office, Chavez filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit
Oct 9 14

FOIA Activity: 19 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by foiaproj

We have added 19 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between September 28, 2014 and October 4, 2014. These are associated with 14 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. CAC 2:2014cv00686Gregory Franklin v. Drug Enforcement Administration
    • September 30, 2014: ORDER DISMISSING ACTION by Magistrate Judge Michael R. Wilner. (See Minute Order for details) re Response [6] Case Terminated. Made JS-6. (vm)
  2. CAN 3:2010cv03759The American Civil Liberties Union of North California et al v. Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • October 2, 2014: ORDER AMENDING BRIEFING SCHEDULE. Signed by Judge Richard Seeborg on 10/2/14. (cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/2/2014)
  3. CAN 3:2012cv04008American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California et al v. Department of Justice
    • September 30, 2014: ORDER by Judge Maria-Elena James granting in part and denying in part [23] Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part [25] Motion for Summary Judgment (cdnS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/30/2014)
    • September 30, 2014: ORDER by Judge Maria-Elena James denying [43] Motion for Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part [48] Motion for Summary Judgment (cdnS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/30/2014)
    • September 30, 2014: ORDER: Case Management Statement due by 10/23/2014. Case Management Conference set for 10/30/2014 10:00 AM. Signed by Judge Maria-Elena James on 9/30/2014. (cdnS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/30/2014)
  4. CAN 3:2014cv02168American Small Business League v. United States Department of the Army
    • September 30, 2014: ORDER AS MODIFIED GRANTING CONTINUANCE re [14] Joint Case Management Statement filed by United States Department of the Army. Case Management Statement due by 10/7/2014. Case Management Conference set for 10/14/2014 10:00 AM in Courtroom 4, 17th Floor, San Francisco. Signed by Judge Vince Chhabria on 9/26/2014. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/30/2014)
  5. CAN 4:2014cv04418Andreini et al v. United States of America Air Force
    • October 3, 2014: ORDER SETTING CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND REQUIRING JOINT CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE STATEMENT. Signed by Judge JEFFREY S. WHITE on 10/3/14. (jjoS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/3/2014)
  6. CO 1:2013cv02466San Juan Citizens Alliance v. United States Department of Interior et al
    • September 29, 2014: ORDER: The Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge [41] filed February 20, 2014, is APPROVED and ADOPTED as an order of this court. The objections [43] of Western Energy Alliance are OVERRULED. The Motion To Intervene by Western Energy Alliance [11] filed October 7, 2013, is DENIED. By Judge Robert E. Blackburn on 9/29/2014. (trlee, )
    • September 30, 2014: ORDER Concerning Motions for Summary Judgment. Granting [42] Motion for Summary Judgment; Denying [45] Motion for Summary Judgment. By Judge Robert E. Blackburn on 09/30/2014.(athom, )
    • September 30, 2014: FINAL JUDGMENT by Clerk in favor of United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Department of The Interior against San Juan Citizens Alliance re: [52] Order on Motion for Summary Judgment, entered on 09/30/2014. (athom, )
  7. DC 1:2013cv00921OCASIO v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
    • October 3, 2014: MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan on 10/3/2014. (lctsc2)
  8. DC 1:2013cv01225CAUSE OF ACTION v. TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION
    • September 29, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 9/29/2014. (lcabj3)
  9. DC 1:2013cv01266AYUDA, INC. et al v. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
    • September 30, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION granting in part and denying in part [16] Defendant's motion for summary judgment and denying [20] Plaintiffs' cross-motion for partial summary judgment. See document for details. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras on 09/30/2014. (lcrc1)
  10. GAS 3:2013cv00045Taylor v. National Security Agency
    • September 30, 2014: ORDER denying [25] Motion to amend judgment, and granting [27] Motion for Summary Judgment. Therefore, this civil action is closed. Signed by Judge Dudley H. Bowen on 9/30/14. (cmr)
  11. INS 1:2014cv00374KENNEDY v. EEOC
    • September 29, 2014: ORDER: Mr. Kennedy's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED, [Filing No. 20]. The EEOC's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, [Filing No. 22]. Final Judgment shall issue accordingly. Copy to Plaintiff via US Mail. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 9/29/2014. (SWM)
    • September 29, 2014: CLOSED FINAL JUDGMENT PURSUANT TO FED. R. CIV. PRO. 58: Consistent with the Court's Order entered this date, the Court now enters FINAL JUDGMENT in this matter in favor of Defendant such that Plaintiff shall take nothing by way of the Complaint. Copy to Plaintiff via US Mail. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 9/29/2014.(SWM)
  12. LAE 2:2014cv01268Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    • October 1, 2014: ORDER AND REASONS. It is ORDERED that Plaintiff's [28] Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs is DENIED. Signed by Judge Carl Barbier on 9/30/2014. (gec)
  13. MIE 2:2013cv12591Baser v. Department of Veterans Affairs et al
    • September 30, 2014: ORDER Denying [20] MOTION for Summary Judgment and Notice Setting Scheduling Conference ( Scheduling Conference set for 11/4/2014 03:00 PM before District Judge Denise Page Hood ) Signed by District Judge Denise Page Hood. (JOwe)
  14. NYW 1:2012cv00807Kuzma v. U.S. Department of Justice
    • September 29, 2014: DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING Defendant's [16] Motion for Summary Judgment; DENYING Plaintiff's [23] Motion for Summary Judgment; DIRECTING the Clerk of the Court to close this case. Signed by William M. Skretny, Chief Judge on 9/28/2014. (MEAL) – CLERK TO FOLLOW UP -
Oct 9 14

64 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by foiaproj

We have added 64 documents from 9 FOIA cases filed between September 28, 2014 and October 4, 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. Our Children's Earth Foundation et al v. National Marine Fisheries Service et al (filed Sep 28, 2014)
    Our Children’s Earth Foundation and Ecological Rights Foundation submitted two FOIA requests to the National Marine Fisheries Service for records concerning the agency’s oversight of Stanford University operations and infrastructure that adversely impact steelhead trout, an endangered species. NMFS provided an interim response that included 31 documents and identified another 10 documents that originated from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In response to it second request, NMFS identified 161 documents and referred another 10 documents to the Corps of Engineers. After the agency failed to provide any further records, the Foundations filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. FRANCIS et al v. FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY (filed Sep 29, 2014)
    Michael and Carmen Francis, residents of Indianapolis, submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Housing Finance Authority for records concerning their mortgage. The agency responded by indicating that the information Francis sought was not an agency record because it originated with a company over which the agency had only temporary conservatorship. Francis appealed by asking the agency to state whether Fannie Mae had assigned their mortgage to a lender in 2013. The agency said it considered the Francis’ appeal but could find no responsive records. The Francis’ then filed suit.
    Issues: Agency Record, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  3. Texas Roadhouse, Inc. et al v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (filed Sep 30, 2014)
    Texas Roadhouse, Inc. submitted two FOIA requests to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The first request was for records concerning the funds spent by the agency investigating and litigating a case against Texas Roadhouse. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The parties had several email exchanges, but the agency did not provide any further response to the request. The second request was for all age discrimination complaints or investigations involving Texas Roadhouse. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but although Texas Roadhouse made several inquiries about the status of its request, the agency did not provide any further response to the second request. Texas Roadhouse then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Sanctions – Referral to Special Counsel
  4. Consumers Council of Missouri v. Department of Health and Human Services (filed Sep 30, 2014)
    The Consumers Council of Missouri submitted a FOIA request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for records concerning the companies offering insurance in Missouri under the Affordable Care Act, the rates charged, and any non-exempt information filed by the insurers. The Council also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Council filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  5. Estate of Ghais Abduljaami v. U.S. Department of State (filed Sep 30, 2014)
    The Estate of Ghais Abduljaami submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for records concerning Abduljaami’s death as a result of a fall in Koln, Germany. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and indicated that it was searching for records at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt. The agency also provided an estimated date of completion of May 2014. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the Estate filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  6. Andreini et al v. United States of America Air Force (filed Oct 1, 2014)
    The Andreini family submitted a FOIA request to Travis Air Force Base for records concerning the “Thunder Over Solano” air show in May 2014 that resulted in the death of Edward Andreini in a plane crash. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and the parties exchanged several emails, but after the agency failed to respond further, the Andreinis filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  7. ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER v. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (filed Oct 1, 2014)
    EPIC submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for the final report of the CIA Inspector General concerning the agency’s surveillance of the Senate Intelligence Committee. EPIC also requested expedited processing, inclusion in the news media fee category, and a public interest fee waiver. After hearing nothing further from the agency, EPIC filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Fee Category – Media or Educational, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  8. AMBUSH v. U. S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Oct 3, 2014)
    Joshua Ambush submitted a request to the Department of State for records concerning the case of Vega-Franqui v. Syrian Arab Republic. The agency responded to the request by disclosing 40 records in full, three with redactions, and withheld seven records entirely, which were withheld under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). Ambush appealed and the agency advised Ambush that since it had not responded within 20 days he was free to file suit. Ambush then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 6 – Invasion of privacy, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. Brigido Acosta Luis v. Johnson et al (filed Oct 4, 2014)
    Brigido Acosta-Luis, a resident alien married to an American citizen, was subject to removal proceedings to Mexico. He submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for his alien file. The agency identified 327 pages and released 115 pages in full and 43 pages in part, and withheld 40 pages entirely. It also referred 129 pages to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. USCIS withheld records under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records) and Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques). Acosta-Luis appealed the USCIS decision and the agency made a partial release of five pages of the 40 pages withheld entirely. Acosta-Luis heard nothing further from ICE and filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 6 – Invasion of privacy, Exemption 7(C) – Invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records, Exemption 7(E) – Investigative methods or techniques, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
Oct 2 14

FOIA Activity: 7 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by foiaproj

We have added 7 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between September 21, 2014 and September 27, 2014. These are associated with 6 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. DC 1:2008cv01481CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
    • September 24, 2014: OPINION granting the defendant's motion for summary judgment and denying the motion for reconsideration as moot. The defendant shall be ordered to show cause in writing why a sanction, in the form of attorneys' fees, should not be entered. Two separate orders consistent with this opinion shall issue this same day. Signed by Judge Paul L. Friedman on September 24, 2014. (MA)
    • September 24, 2014: ORDER denying as moot [55] defendant's Motion for Reconsideration; granting [65] defendant's renewed Motion for Summary Judgment. The complaint is dismissed with prejudice and the case removed from the court docket. Signed by Judge Paul L. Friedman on September 24, 2014. (MA)
  2. DC 1:2010cv02068PARKER v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
    • September 23, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 9/23/2014. (lcabj3)
  3. NYN 5:2012cv01027Mancuso v. United States Environmental Protection Agency
    • September 22, 2014: MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDERED, that Defendants Motion (Dkt. No. 39) for summary judgment is GRANTED; and it is further ORDERED, that the Clerk of the Court close this case. Signed by Senior Judge Lawrence E. Kahn on September 22, 2014. ***A copy of this order was served upon the pro se plaintiff by Certified US mail. (sas) Modified on 9/22/2014 to add pro se mailing language (sas).
  4. NYS 1:2012cv01111Assadi v. United States Department of State
    • September 22, 2014: OPINION & ORDER #104753 re: [11] MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment filed by United States Department of State. DOS has shown that its search was adequate, that the withheld documents fall within applicable FOIA exemptions, and that it has pro vided all information that can be reasonably segregated from the exempt information, and the motion for partial summary judgment (Dkt. No. 11) is granted. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Louis L. Stanton on 9/19/2014) (ama) Modified on 9/22/2014 (ca).
  5. NYS 1:2012cv01374Assadi v. United States Citizenship & Immigration Services
    • September 26, 2014: OPINION AND ORDER re: [28] MOTION In Camera Review Plaintiff's Notice of Motion for In Camera Review filed by John Assadi, Esq., [33] CROSS MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment filed by United States Citizenship & Immigration Services. For the foregoing reasons, Assadi's motion for in camera review is DENIED, and CIS's cross motion for partial summary judgment is GRANTED. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis on 9/26/2014) (ama)
  6. WIE 1:2014cv00201Village of Hobart v. US Department of the Interior et al
    • September 23, 2014: ORDER denying motion for discovery and in camera review signed by Chief Judge William C Griesbach on 9-23-14. (cc: all counsel)(Griesbach, William)
Oct 2 14

11 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by foiaproj

We have added 8 documents from 2 FOIA cases filed between September 21, 2014 and September 27, 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.

  • SMITH v. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (filed Sep 23, 2014)
    Grant Smith of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Defense for a 1987 Institute for Defense Analyses report entitled “Current Technology Issues in Israel.” The agency withheld the report under a variety of statutes it claimed prohibited disclosure under Exemption 3 (other statutes). Smith appealed the denial and after considerable back and forth over two years, the agency had not responded to his appeal and he filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 3, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  • Gahagan v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (filed Sep 27, 2014)
    Michael Gahagan , an immigration attorney, submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the alien file for his client Miztle Amador-Castillo, currently being held pending removal proceedings. The agency released 51 pages, but withheld 17 pages entirely. Gahagan filed an appeal of the agency’s decision, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, he filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index

In addition, we have added 3 documents from 1 case, with an earlier filing date, that has recently appeared on PACER.

  • EJF Plus, Inc. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District (filed Sep 19, 2014)
    EJF Plus submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, for all records concerning a site inspection of a property the company owned. The agency responded by withholding two documents under Exemption 5 (privileges) and 131 documents and 10 photographs under Exemption 7(A) (ongoing investigation or proceeding). EJF Plus submitted a second request for the same records as well as records pertaining to a subsequent site inspection. The agency again denied some records under Exemption 7(A). EJF Plus appealed the agency’s decision, which was upheld by the Chicago District. EJF Plus then appealed that decision to the Army General Counsel. After hearing nothing further concerning its appeal to the General Counsel, EJF Plus filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
Sep 26 14

FOIA Activity: 7 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by foiaproj

We have added 7 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between September 14, 2014 and September 20, 2014. These are associated with 7 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 2:2011cv02799(PS) Jones v. Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
    • September 15, 2014: ORDER denying [93] Motion to Strike signed by Chief Judge Morrison C. England, Jr on 9/12/14. (Kaminski, H)
  2. CAE 2:2014cv02106(PS) Yegorov v. McBrien
    • September 15, 2014: ORDER AND FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Carolyn K. Delaney on 9/15/14 ORDERING that [2] Motion to Proceed IFP is granted. RECOMMENDING that this action be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. F&R referred to Judge John A. Mendez. Objections to F&R due within fourteen days. (Kaminski, H)
  3. CAN 3:2012cv03728American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California et al v. Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • September 16, 2014: ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [43] 47 (Illston, Susan) (Filed on 9/16/2014)
  4. DC 1:2013cv00921OCASIO v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
    • September 16, 2014: MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan on 09/16/2014. (lctsc2)
  5. DC 1:2014cv00471ELLIS v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
    • September 16, 2014: MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 9/16/2014. (lcabj1)
  6. ILN 1:2013cv03547Aland v. U.S Department of the Interior et al
    • September 19, 2014: ORDER: This is an action brought under the Freedom of Information Act based on a request for documents submitted to the Department of the Interior regarding the agency's efforts to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list. For the r easons provided, Defendants, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted [29] and Plaintiff Robert H. Alands Motion for Summary Judgment is denied [33] [For further details see order] – Signed by the Honorable Susan E. Cox on 9/19/2014. Mailed notice (np, )
  7. NYS 1:2013cv08620Bishop et al v. United States Department of Homeland Security
    • September 16, 2014: OPINION AND ORDER #104735. For the foregoing reasons, DHS's motion for summary judgment (Docket #16) is granted, and plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment (Docket #19) is denied. The Clerk is requested to enter judgment dismissing the com plaint. re: [16] MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by United States Department of Homeland Security, [19] CROSS MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Mac William Bishop, Christopher Chivers. (Signed by Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein on 9/16/2014) (rjm) Modified on 9/18/2014 (ca).
Sep 26 14

42 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by foiaproj

We have added 34 documents from 6 FOIA cases filed between September 14, 2014 and September 20, 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. The Inclusive Communities Project Inc v. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (filed Sep 15, 2014)
    The Inclusive Communities Project, a fair housing organization in Dallas, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for records concerning the Housing Choice Voucher in counties near Dallas. The organization asked for records in electronic format and indicated that the organization was willing to pay up to $1,000 in costs. HUD acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, ICP filed suit.
    Issues: Choice of format, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. The Inclusive Communities Project Inc v. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (filed Sep 15, 2014)
    The Inclusive Communities Project, a fair housing organization in Dallas, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for records concerning Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plans approved by HUD in connection with multi-family HUD insured loans. HUD acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, ICP filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. CONLEY v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION et al (filed Sep 18, 2014)
    Kevin Conley, convicted of murder in New Jersey, submitted a multi-part request to the FBI for various DNA analysis records pertaining to his conviction. The FBI divided his request into three separate requests. The FBI’s response to the first request contained 107 pages heavily redacted under Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques). The response to the second request contained 172 pages that pertained to his trial but not to the DNA analysis. The agency failed to respond to the third request. Conley appealed the first two responses to the Office of Information Policy. OIP upheld the FBI’s use of 7(E) but did not respond to the second appeal. Conley then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 7(E) – Investigative methods or techniques, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. ACCURACY IN MEDIA, INC. et al v. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE et al (filed Sep 19, 2014)
    Accuracy in Media and a number of retired military officers submitted 17 FOIA requests to multiple agencies for records pertaining to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The requests also asked for expedited processing, inclusion in the media category, and a public interest fee waiver. While some agencies failed to respond further, several agencies denied expedited processing and the State Department asked Accuracy in Media to narrow its request, which it did. After exhausting administrative remedies with all the agencies, Accuracy in Media filed suit.
    Issues: Choice of format, Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Fee Category – Media or Educational, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  5. NOLEN v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Sep 19, 2014)
    Austin Nolen submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records linking Martin Andrew Droll, a socialist writer and organizer who had committed suicide, to terrorist groups. The FBI responded by telling Nolen that it could not find any responsive records. Nolen filed an administrative appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency he filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Withholding not related to exemption claims
  6. Lapp v. The Federal Bureau Of Investigation (filed Sep 19, 2014)
    Eric Lapp, the owner of Fingerprint Solutions, a company dealing with the storage and use of fingerprints, submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for a list of all public housing agencies that had submitted requests to the FBI for Originating Agency Identifiers. The agency told Lapp that it was unable to search based on the description of records he provided. Lapp appealed the denial to the Office of Information Policy, which upheld the agency’s decision and told Lapp he could further appeal to the Office of Government Information Services. Lapp appealed to OGIS, but that agency told him it had limited authority to act. Lapp finally filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Withholding not related to exemption claims

In addition, we have added 8 documents from 1 case, with an earlier filing date, that has recently appeared on PACER.

  • Alvin v. United States Department of Justice, et al. (MAG+) (filed Sep 12, 2014)
    Mistrell Alvin, a federal prisoner in Alabama, submitted a request to the Department of Justice for records concerning authorization for wiretaps used in Alvin’s case in Georgia. The Criminal Division withheld the records under Exemption 3 (other statutes). Alvin appealed to the Office of Information Policy, which affirmed the Criminal Division’s denial on the basis of Exemption and Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques). Alvin then filed suit.
    Issues: Exemption 3, Exemption 7(E), Litigation – Sanctions
Sep 19 14

PACER documents to be restored, court says

by Greg Munno

A spokesperson for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) told the FOIA Project today that “full electronic access” to more than 800,000 cases removed from PACER will be restored. PACER is the electronic court document management and retrieval system relied on by thousands of researchers, lawyers, journalists and others.

The news was first announced in an article this afternoon by Andrea Peterson, who has been covering the issue for The Washington Post, and later confirmed by FOIA Project and other groups.

However, there is still confusion about what exactly was removed from PACER and what exactly will be restored. The documents were removed without warning in August because, according to the AOUSC, they were in a format that prevented the records from migrating to a new PACER  that is being developed.  The  cases removed were closed cases from four appellate circuits and the bankruptcy court for the Central District of California and comprise a fraction of the 33 million cases in the system.

Although AOUSC officials were able to peg the number of affected cases at around 800,000, they were not able to say exactly how many documents or pages those cases encompassed. You can read more about what was removed and the consequences for researchers, lawyers and journalists in our Sept. 5 report.

In an interview with AOUSC staff today, a spokesperson said that only the dockets from the removed cases will be available electronically. But she also said that all of  the documents that were removed would be restored. Asked about the apparent contradiction, she said that it was her understanding that the dockets were the only electronically available information on the cases available before the removal because the cases were old and closed. However, at least some of the cases would have been fairly recent. For example, the U.S. Court Appeals for the Federal District had all of its cases removed prior to March 1, 2012.

The spokesperson said the dockets for the appellate courts would be back online by the end of October, and that the bankruptcy court dockets would be restored after work on the appellate cases is complete.

The FOIA Project will continue to follow this story and share additional information as it becomes available.