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90 new FOIA court documents, plus case descriptions

by on April 22, 2014

We have added 87 documents from 13 FOIA cases filed between April 13, 2014 and April 19, 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. SOTO, et al v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (filed Apr 13, 2014)
    Mauricio Rojas Soto made a FOIA request to the State Department for all records relied upon by the agency in denying his family a visa. The agency released three documents in full and 14 in part. It withheld 110 documents under Exemption 3 (other statutes), citing Section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Soto appealed and the agency told him that since it had missed the 20-day time limit for responding, he could file suit. Soto then filed suit.
    Issues: immediate disclosure of records, attorney’s fees
  2. v. Soto et al (filed Apr 13, 2014)
    This docket number appears to have been issued inadvertently. There are no documents attached and the docket appears to relate directly to 1:2014cv00604, Soto v. Dept of State.
    Issues: N/A
  3. REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (filed Apr 15, 2014)
    The Republican National Committee submitted a FOIA request to the Internal Revenue Service for any records containing the words “tea party,” “patriot,” “9/12 project,” or similar words pertaining to the development of criteria for identifying 501(c)(40 tax-exempt organizations. The IRS acknowledged receipt of the receipt and took a 10-day extension of the statutory response time. After waiting more than 200 days for the agency to respond, the Republican National Committee filed suit.
    Issues: improper withholding, preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting agency from withholding requested records, attorney’s fees
  4. TEA PARTY PATRIOTS, INC. v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE et al (filed Apr 15, 2014)
    The Tea Party Patriots submitted a request to the Internal Revenue Service for records concerning a notice of proposed rulemaking on Guidance for Tax-Exempt Social Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities. Tea Party Patriots made a similar request to the Treasury Department. The Treasury Department acknowledged receipt of the request, but Tea Party Patriots heard nothing further concerning the FOIA request sent to Treasury. The IRS acknowledged receipt of the request, took a 10-day extension of time, and asked for a further extension of nearly two months. Although the Tea Party Patriots did not agree to the two month extension, after another two months had gone by, the Tea Party Patriots, believing the agency was no closer to producing records, filed suit.
    Issues: improper withholding, conduct adequate search, disclosure of all non-exempt records by date certain, production of Vaughn index, attorney’s fees
  5. Torres Consulting and Law Group LLC v. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (filed Apr 16, 2014)
    Torres Consulting and Law Group submitted a FOIA request to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for certified payroll information for RTD Construction and its subcontractors for plumbers and pipe-fitters. NASA responded that it had no payroll records pertaining to RTD Construction for those job classifications. Torres appealed the agency’s decision, but the decision was upheld on appeal. Torres then submitted another FOIA request for records related to the Revitalize KSC Water and Wastewater Systems Phase 4 as described in a NASA contract concerning work done by plumbers and pipe-fitters. This time, NASA located responsive records, but withheld them entirely on the basis of Exemption 4 (confidential business information) and Exemption 6 (!
    invasion of privacy). Torres appealed the decision administratively and the agency upheld its decision. Torres then filed suit.
    Issues: improper withholding, segregability, preliminary injunction requiring disclosure before end of construction project, attorney’s fees
  6. Snyder v. Department of Defense et al (filed Apr 16, 2014)
    Richard Snyder, formerly president of TPS, Inc., had been receiving Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) files through file transfer protocol (FTP) from the Defense Logistics Agency since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had ruled in his favor in TPS, Inc. v. Dept of Defense. He was informed by the agency that FTP transfers were currently not successful because he probably did not have enough computer storage space. Snyder told the agency he did have sufficient computer storage space and suggested the problem was a change in a Defense Department protocol. A conference call was scheduled to resolve the problem, but, according to Snyder, no one with technical expertise participated on the call. He asked the agency to check with technical support staff at the Defense Information Syst!
    ems Agency. A week later, DLA told Snyder that DISA said the connection was fine, but when Snyder asked if DLA had followed up with trying to fix the problem, he was told that it had not. He then received a letter from DLA saying it would no longer provide the CAGE information because it was publicly available under the affirmative disclosure provisions of FOIA. Snyder filed an appeal, arguing that the agency was required to provide information in the requester’s format of choice. The agency denied his appeal and Snyder then filed suit.
    Issues: improper withholding, preliminary injunction requiring agency to comply with FOIA, punitive damages of $20, 000, costs
  7. PRP TRADING CORPORATION v U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (filed Apr 16, 2014)
    PRP Trading, a Puerto Rican corporation, submitted a FOIA request to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records pertaining to a specific case number. ICE acknowledged receipt of the request. PRP expanded its request to a total of 17 case files. ICE denied PRP’s request entirely under Exemption 7(A) (ongoing investigation or proceeding). PRP appealed, claiming the information had been publicly disclosed during court proceedings in Puerto Rico. ICE rejected PRP’s claim, finding instead that the records were still involved in an ongoing investigation. PRP then filed suit.
    Issues: immediate disclosure, attorney’s fees
  8. CB&I FEDERAL SERVICES LLC v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed Apr 16, 2014)
    Shaw Environmental submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for records concerning a contract between FEMA and Shaw Environmental. Shaw attempted unsuccessfully on several occasions to get a status update on its request. Shaw was finally told that the contract would be sent to Shaw for pre-disclosure notification, even though Shaw was requesting its own proprietary information. Shaw received 333 pages and marked portions that it did not want disclosed publicly. However, after still being unable to get an estimate of when its request would be completed, Shaw filed suit.
    Issues: improper withholding, enjoin agency from charging search fees, expedited proceedings, attorney’s fees
  9. BEVERIDGE & DIAMOND, P.C. v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Apr 16, 2014)
    The law firm of Beveridge & Diamond made a FOIA request to the EPA for records related to follow-up work and updates on exposure to Libby amphibole asbestos and related health outcomes. The agency responded, but withheld some information under Exemption 4 (confidential business information) and Exemption 5 (privileges). Beveridge & Diamond appealed the agency’s decision. The agency upheld its use of Exemption 5, but did not address Exemption 4. Beveridge & Diamond then filed suit.
    Issues: improper withholding, disclosure of all records within 10 days of court order, expedited proceedings, attorney’s fees
  10. Donaldson v. Grundmann (filed Apr 16, 2014)
    Robert Donnell Donaldson requested the FOIA request logs for the Merit Systems Protection Board from 2005 to the present. The agency did not respond within the statutory time limits and Donaldson filed suit.
    Issues: disclosure of records, production of Vaughn index, order agency to identify regulations that allow it to “pick and choose” which records it retains, punitive damages in excess of $15, 000, sanction agency $10, 000 a day until it produces information
  11. Gallagher-Kaiser Corporation v. United States Department of Transportation (filed Apr 16, 2014)
    Gallagher-Kaiser Corporation, a construction company working as a subcontractor on a contract awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration for work at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, became involved in a dispute over work delays with the contractor. It made a FOIA request to the FAA for various records concerning the contract. The FAA acknowledged receipt of the request and told Gallagher-Kaiser that it would take six months to respond to its request. However, after six months had passed, the agency still had not responded to the company’s request and Gallagher-Kaiser filed suit.
    Issues: improper withholding, disclosure of records, find agency behavior was arbitrary and capricious, attorney’s fees
  12. Rodriguez v. U.S. Department of Justice et al (filed Apr 17, 2014)
    Constantino Canelos Rodriguez, a Mexican citizen, submitted a FOIA request to the Drug Enforcement Administration for all records concerning himself. The agency located a file and released two pages to Rodriguez. The agency further indicated that there appeared to be other potentially responsive records, but that he should make another request for them. He requested a further search and provided a time-frame and the incident in which he was interested. The agency then told Rodriguez that its search had uncovered an additional 11 related files that it would not search until he agreed to pay $1,120 in estimated search fees. Rodriguez paid the $1,120 estimated fee and the agency acknowledged receipt of the payment. Nearly three years later, the agency denied Rodriguez’s request, withholding 1!
    93 pages under Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records), Exemption 7(D) (confidential sources), Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques), and Exempti8on 7(F) (harm to any person’s safety). Rodriguez appealed the denial and asked for an accounting of the actual costs. The agency upheld the denial. Rodriguez then filed suit.
    Issues: improper withholding, disclosure of all records, expeditious proceedings, refund of amount of processing fee not actually incurred, accounting, attorney’s fees
  13. Robinson v. The State of Texas (filed Apr 18, 2014)
    Joe Earl Robinson, a Texas state prisoner, filed a suit citing FOIA, and the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as the basis for his request for the transcripts of his trial in state court in Dallas. This is not a FOIA suit since Robinson has no federal cause of action against the Texas state courts.
    Issues: N/A

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

  • Wallace v. FBI (filed Apr 4, 2014)
    Kelly Wallace filed suit against the FBI to force the agency to stop conducting surveillance of his brain and thoughts. The complaint is unclear whether Wallace is seeking records or wants the agency to stop its surveillance of him. This really doesn’t qualify as a FOIA case.
    Issues: N/A
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From → FOIA, PACER

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