FOIA Advisor

Court opinions issued Sept. 11, 2015

Court Opinions (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Cleveland v. U.S. Dep't of State (D.D.C.) -- determining that State Department conducted an adequate search for records relating to a human rights report about Cameroon, and that it properly withheld certain information under Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege) and Exemption 6.

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Nat'l Institutes of Health (D.D.C.) -- awarding plaintiff $22,724.03 in attorneys fee and costs, which represented 10 percent of amount that plaintiff sought.  The court determined that plaintiff was eligible for fees because the D.C. Circuit had rejected in part agency's Glomar response, thus changing the legal relationship between the parties.  Further, the court found that plaintiff was entitled to fees even though agency's actions were reasonable, because plaintiff's interests in seeking records were for public benefit and non-commercial.  Because plaintiff prevailed on only a narrow portion of its litigation, however, the court concluded that plaintiff should receive only 10 percent of requested fees.  

Gahagan v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs. (E.D. La.) -- finding that:  (1) agency's search was adequate; (2) agency declarants were not required to have personal knowledge of search; (3) plaintiff was not entitled to a Vaughn Index from USCIS because another DHS component had processed the records and already provided plaintiff with an index; and (4) an in camera review of withheld records was unnecessary.

Summaries of all cases since April 2015 are available here.