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Case Detail

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DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2016cv01090
Date Filed2016-06-13
Date Closed2017-07-11
JudgeJudge Randolph D. Moss
Case DescriptionJason Gerhard, a prison reporter, submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Prisons for donation records and records related to the contract for the copying machine in the prison law library. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency told Gerhard that it had already disclosed the donation records to him and that it could not process his request concerning the copying machine without a contract number. Gerhard appealed to the Office of Information Policy, which upheld the agency's decision. Gerhard then filed suit.
Complaint issues: Litigation - Recovery of Costs

Complaint attachment 1
Opinion/Order [15]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Randolph Moss has ruled that the Bureau of Prisons fully responded to prisoner Jason Gerhard's request for a copy of the contract for inmate copying services and donations made to FCI Fairton, but because the agency did not locate an additional eight pages pertaining to the donations until after he filed suit, Gerhard is entitled to costs. BOP told Gerhard that it did not have a contract as such but that inmates were allowed to buy cards they could use to pay for copies. Although the donation reports are supposed to be filed with the agency's Ethics Office, that office was not searched until after Gerhard brought suit. Moss agreed the agency had explained the non-existence of the copying contract and found Gerhard had not requested information about copy cards. Moss found Gerhard had substantially prevailed, pointing out that "the fact that the BOP initially failed to search for the missing records in the office designated to receive them suggests that the BOP needed additional prodding " and not just additional time " to comply with Gerhard's request. BOP claimed that Gerhard had failed to show that his claims were "not insubstantial." Moss noted that "because BOP provides no further analysis on this point, it is difficult to know what the BOP means by this. But, in any event, to the extent that this statutory language imposes requirements beyond those of the catalyst theory, those requirements are 'lenient' and demand less than 'that a plaintiff's claim be correct on the merits.' That standard is easily met here." Moss found that Gerhard's use of information he received as the result of FOIA requests on his website made him a prison journalist of sorts. Finding the agency was required to reimburse Gerhard for his costs, Moss noted that "given Gerhard's indigent status, this case seems to present the type of situation in which court costs impose substantial barriers to the FOIA requestor's access to the documents."
Issues: Litigation - Recovery of Costs
User-contributed Documents
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-06-131COMPLAINT against FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS filed by JASON GERHARD. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(zrdj) (Entered: 06/14/2016)
2016-06-132MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis by JASON GERHARD (zrdj) (Entered: 06/14/2016)
2016-06-133PRISONER TRUST FUND ACCOUNT STATEMENT for period of six months by JASON GERHARD (zrdj) (Entered: 06/14/2016)
2016-06-134ORDER directing an initial partial filing fee in the amount of $54.92 from Prison Account of JASON GERHARD and granting 2 MOTION for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (see order for full details). Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 6/10/2016. (zrdj) (Entered: 06/14/2016)
2016-06-13Initiating Pleading & IFP Application Received on 5/27/2016. (zrdj) (Entered: 06/14/2016)
2016-06-135SUMMONS (3) Issued as to FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (jd) (Entered: 06/17/2016)
2016-06-276STANDING ORDER: See attached document for details. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 6/27/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 06/27/2016)
2016-07-057RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 6/24/2016. Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 8/23/2016. (zrdj) (Entered: 07/05/2016)
2016-07-218MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint by FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS (Posner, Michael) (Entered: 07/21/2016)
2016-07-25MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the motion for extension of time 8 , it is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED. Defendant may respond to the complaint on or before September 8, 2016. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 7/25/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 07/25/2016)
2016-07-26Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant may respond to the complaint on or before 9/8/2016. (kt) (Entered: 07/26/2016)
2016-09-089MOTION for Summary Judgment by FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of John Wallace)(Posner, Michael) (Entered: 09/08/2016)
2016-10-2710ORDER: Plaintiff shall respond to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment 9 on or before November 27, 2016. See attached document for details. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 10/27/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 10/27/2016)
2016-10-27Set/Reset Deadlines: Plaintiff shall file his opposition to Defendants motion for summary judgment on or before 11/26/2016; Defendant shall file any reply on or before 11/27/2016. (kt) (Entered: 10/27/2016)
2016-11-0311NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Christopher Charles Hair on behalf of FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS Substituting for attorney Michael B. Posner (Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 11/03/2016)
2016-11-1512MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply by FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS (Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 11/15/2016)
2016-11-15MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Extension of Time to File Reply 12 , the motion is hereby GRANTED. The Court's previous Order 10 erroneously set the deadline for November 27, 2016. It is hereby ORDERED that Defendant shall instead file any reply on or before December 27, 2016. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 11/15/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 11/15/2016)
2016-11-16Set/Reset Deadlines: Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 12/27/2016. (kt) (Entered: 11/16/2016)
2016-11-1713Memorandum in opposition to re 9 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by JASON GERHARD. (zrdj) (Entered: 11/21/2016)
2016-12-2214REPLY to opposition to motion re 9 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS. (Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 12/22/2016)
2017-07-1115MEMORANDUM OPINION granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment 9 and awarding Plaintiff his reasonable costs. See opinion for details. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 7/11/2017. (lcrdm3, ) (Main Document 15 replaced on 7/12/2017) (zkt). (Entered: 07/11/2017)
2017-07-1116ORDER: For the reasons stated in the Court's Memorandum Opinion 15 , the Court hereby ORDERS that (1) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment 9 is GRANTED; (2) the Court will award Plaintiff his reasonable costs of litigation other than attorney's fees; (3) Plaintiff may file a bill of costs in accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1) and LCvR 54.1(a) on or before August 1, 2017; and (4) Defendant may file an opposition to that bill of costs in accordance with LCvR 54.1(b) on or before 14 days after the date on which the bill of costs appears on the docket. See attached document. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 7/11/2017. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 07/11/2017)
2017-07-11Set/Reset Deadlines: Plaintiff's bill of costs due by 8/1/2017. (kt) (Entered: 07/11/2017)
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by FOIA Project Staff
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