Skip to content
Nov 12 18

Annual Report: FOIA Lawsuits Reach Record Highs in FY 2018

by Christine Mehta

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits continued to break record highs in FY 2018. According to case-by-case court records, 860 FOIA lawsuits were filed in FY 2018 against government agencies. In addition, the backlog of FOIA suits waiting to be decided rose to 1,204 cases, an all-time high.

Figure 1. FOIA Litigation Reaches Record Highs in FY 2018

Figure 1

Compared to an average of 402 FOIA suits per year during the Obama Administration, the rate of filing since President Trump assumed office has more than doubled. While suits rose during the latter years of the Obama Administration, the 860 suits filed in FY 2018, represent a 67 percent increase over filings during the last full fiscal year of the Obama Administration.

Although not the only factor, a notable pattern emerging during FY 2017 and 2018 is the rising number of nonprofit filers. In FY 2018, nonprofits comprised 56 percent of all FOIA lawsuits brought against the government. Nonprofits became increasingly active under the Obama Administration, but emerged as the majority of all FOIA lawsuit plaintiffs after President Trump took office. In FY 2016, nonprofit filers comprised just 36 percent of plaintiffs, whereas they comprised 50 percent or more in FY 2017 and FY 2018 (see previous report, “FOIA Suits Filed by Nonprofit/Advocacy Groups Have Doubled Under Trump”). Suits filed by reporters and news organizations also have been increasing.

FY 2018 FOIA Lawsuits App

Accompanying this report, FOIAproject.org has just updated the period covered by the project’s FOIA Lawsuits App. This free user tool allows the public to drill into these numbers to track FOIA litigation trends over time.

Available are trends not only on new suits filed, but also on how long suits have taken to complete. The backlog of FOIA cases currently pending before federal district courts is also detailed, along with how long cases have been waiting resolution.

Users can examine overall figures, or drill in by government department, by agencies within departments, and by independent agencies.

read more…

Nov 8 18

MARKS v. UNITED STATES CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES et al and 11 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 70 documents from 12 FOIA cases filed between October 28, 2018 and November 3, 2018. 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. MARKS v. UNITED STATES CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES et al (filed Nov 2, 2018)
    David Marks, an attorney who represents nursing home residents, submitted a FOIA request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for records concerning non-identifying minimum data sets submitted by nursing homes for individual residents. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request but told Marks that the data was publicly available for a fee from the Research Data Assistance Center read more…
Nov 8 18

FOIA Activity: 7 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 7 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between October 28, 2018 and November 3, 2018. 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. CAN 3:2015cv03186Electronic Frontier Foundation v. Department of Justice

    • November 2, 2018: ORDER DISMISSING CASE PURSUANT TO STIPULATION RE: ECF NO. [59] Signed by Judge Thomas S. Hixson on 11/2/2018. (cdnS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/2/2018)
  2. read more…

Nov 8 18

FOIA Activity: 102 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 100 documents from 16 FOIA cases filed between October 21, 2018 and October 27, 2018. 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 Complete Logistics Company, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service (filed Oct 26, 2018)
    The Complete Logistics Company submitted three FOIA requests to the IRS for records concerning the agency’s investigation of the company. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. It disclosed 304 pages in response to the company’s first request. Its second and third requests were for an Activity Record read more…
Nov 8 18

FOIA Activity: 7 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 7 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between October 21, 2018 and October 27, 2018. 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. CAN 3:2018cv03731Chetal v. U.S. Department of Interior et al

    • October 22, 2018: ORDER by Judge Edward M. Chen Denying [19] Plaintiff's Motion to Expedite Discovery. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service)(emcsec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/22/2018)
  2. read more…

Oct 25 18

CAUSE OF ACTION INSTITUTE v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE and 15 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 109 documents from 16 FOIA cases filed between October 14, 2018 and October 20, 2018. 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. CAUSE OF ACTION INSTITUTE v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Oct 15, 2018)
    Cause of Action Institute submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning Executive Order 13,457. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and various components provided records. The Office of Information Policy located 143 pages. It disclosed 32 pages entirely and 11 pages with redactions labeled “non-responsive read more…
Oct 25 18

FOIA Activity: 3 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 3 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between October 14, 2018 and October 20, 2018. These are associated with 3 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 3:2018cv02008The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), et al v. U.S. Department of Labor

    • October 17, 2018: ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE Order to Show Cause Hearing set for 12/7/2018 02:00 PM.. Signed by Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero on 10/17/18. (klhS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/17/2018)
  2. read more…

Oct 18 18

FOIA Suits Filed by Nonprofit/Advocacy Groups Have Doubled Under Trump

by FOIA Project Staff

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suits filed by nonprofit and advocacy organizations seeking access to federal government records have more than doubled since President Trump assumed office. This rapid explosion in FOIA litigation is shown in Figure 1.

requests_change

Figure 1. Rapid Rise in FOIA Suits Filed Annually by Nonprofit Organizations, October 2001 – July 2018

This sudden burst in FOIA activity is a marked departure from the slower rise that had prevailed during much of the previous two presidential administrations. For example, during the first year of the Bush administration, nonprofit organizations filed 47 cases challenging federal agencies’ FOIA practices. Ten years later the annual number of suits filed by this sector surpassed 100 individual cases. By June 2015, nonprofits annual total topped 150. And in January 2016 nonprofit organizations’ annual FOIA filings topped 200 and peaked in April and May of 2016 at 236 before slackening off. read more…

Oct 18 18

NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. v. U.S. Department Of Justice and 16 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt

We have added 99 documents from 13 FOIA cases filed between October 7, 2018 and October 13, 2018. 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. NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. v. U.S. Department Of Justice (filed Oct 12, 2018)
    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for records concerning the agency’s decision to ask for a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act. LDF also requested a fee waiver and expedited processing read more…
Oct 18 18

FOIA Activity: 4 New Procedural or Substantive Decisions

by FOIA Project Staff

We have added 4 decisions of a procedural or substantive nature filed between October 7, 2018 and October 13, 2018. These are associated with 4 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. AK 3:2018cv00028James v. United States Department of Defense et al

    • October 10, 2018: ORDER granting in part and denying in part [12] Motion for Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part [17] Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant shall provide Plaintiff with the names and current location of those persons whose identifying information was redacted; Defendant is not required to provide any additional documents to Plaintiff. Signed by Judge John W. Sedwick on 10/10/18. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF)
  2. read more…

Skip to toolbar