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January 2020 FOIA Litigation with Five-Year Monthly Trends

by FOIA Project Staff on February 19th, 2020

During the month of January 2020 federal district courts saw a total of 63 new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed under 5 U.S.C. 552. To place this number in perspective, 63 new filings compares with a monthly average of 73 filings during the last 12 months. This month’s total brought overall FOIA filings on an annual basis for these last 12 months to 877.

The figure below provides a more detailed view of monthly trends during the past five years. The height of each bar reflects the number of filings in that month. To see the actual filing count mouse over any bar. The superimposed line over the bars is the moving 12-month average. It is computed by adding up the 12 months ending at a given month, and then dividing that total by 12 to obtain the monthly average over this period. Mousing over any bar also shows the calculated result for this moving average for that given month.

Locating additional details on these cases: The FOIA Project compiles summaries of each of these cases written by Harry Hammitt for into a weekly blog posting. These typically are posted every Thursday. For recent postings see:

* February 6, 2020: The New York Times Company v. Federal Bureau of Prisons and 45 other new FOIA lawsuits, plus case descriptions.

* January 31, 2020: SHANE v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY and 9 other new FOIA lawsuits, plus case descriptions.

* January 16, 2020: New York Civil Liberties Union v. Administration for Children and Families et al and 11 other new FOIA lawsuits.

* January 10, 2020: The New York Times Company v. Department of Defense and 8 other new FOIA lawsuits, plus case descriptions.

* January 7, 2020: FOIA Activity: 43 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions.

Documents in each case, including the complaint that was filed and the court’s docket sheet, are available elsewhere on They can be found by using the “Search Lawsuits” tool under the “FOIA Lawsuits” menu.

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