FOIA Advisor

Court Opinions (2017)

Court opinions issued Dec. 21 & 22, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Dec. 22, 2017

Eil v. DEA (1st Cir.) -- reversing judgment of district court because it failed to consider privacy interests of decedents' family members and holding that Exemption 7(C) permitted DEA to withhold medical and death-related records introduced as exhibits by government at criminal trial of Dr. Paul Volkman. A dissenting judge agreed that the lower court employed incorrect standard, but opined that summary judgment.was precluded by a genuine factual dispute. 

Dec. 21, 2017

Gatore v. DHS (D.D.C.) -- ruling that plaintiffs were eligible for and entitled to attorney's fee and costs for substantially prevailing in case involving FOIA requests for assessments of asylum officers.  In reaching its decision, the court notably held that it was unreasonable for DHS to withhold non-responsive information from a responsive document. per recent D.C. Circuit case law.  The court also held that plaintiff failed to demonstrate the "LSI Laffey Matrix" reflects the prevailing hourly rates for attorneys better than the "USAO Matrix." 

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Court opinions issued Dec. 19 & 20, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Dec. 20, 2017

Whitaker v. Dep't of Commerce (D. Vt.) -- concluding that: (1) First Responder Authority Network (FirstNet)is wholly exempt from FOIA pursuant to section 1426(d) of Title 47; (2) National Telecommunications & Information Administration and main Department of Commerce both properly declined to perform searches because they were likely to be futile; (3) Department did not have improper practice or policy of referring requests to FirstNet.  

Dec. 19, 2017

Am. Ctr. for Equitable Treatment v. OMB (D.D.C.) -- ruling that agency's search was inadequate because: (1) agency failed to sufficiently explain why it did not search for records requested prior to January 20, 2009, and  (2) agency failed to use certain commonly used terms as search terms.  

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Court opinion issued Dec. 18, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. Office of the Dir. of Nat'l Intelligence (D.D.C.) -- ruling that agency properly relied on Exemptions 1 and 3 (National Security Act of 1947) to withhold, in its entirety, an assessment of U.S. Intelligence Community ("IC") compiled by agency regarding Russia's attempts to influence 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Court opinion issued Dec. 15, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press v. FBI (D.C. Cir.) --  reversing and remanding district court's decision that FBI had conducting adequate search for records concerning its impersonation of media during law enforcement investigations.  In reaching its ruling, the Circuit found that the government failed to sufficiently describe which agency files were searched and how, failed to demonstrate that certain records would not likely be maintained outside of one office it searched, and failed to follow one clear lead mentioned in responsive records.

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Court opinion issued Dec. 14, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Frank LLP v. CFPB (D.D.C.) -- determining that: (1) Bureau properly invoked Exemption 7(E) to withhold certain records concerning enforcement action against debt collector; (2) Bureau properly withheld attorney interview notes prepared during active investigation into potential target pursuant to Exemption 5 (attorney work-product); (3) plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies with respect to second request for failure to pay fees; (4) Bureau has improper practice of treating records submitted in response to Civil Investigative Demands ("CIDs") as "voluntarily" submitted for  purposes of Exemption 4; (5) Bureau properly treats entities that buy and collect on debts as "financial institutions" for purposes of Exemption 8. 

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Court opinions issued Dec. 13, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Pickard v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (9th Cir.) (unpublished opinion) -- ruling that: (1) district court properly held that Exemption 7(D) protected name and information provided by source despite source's testimony at public trail; and (2) district court abused its discretion by considering plaintiff's remaining claims "withdrawn," because even though plaintiff had not sought summary judgment on those claims, he had opposed agency's summary judgment motion. 

Scudder v. CIA (D.D.C.) -- concluding that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that CIA has policy or practice of categorically refusing to produce responsive documents electronically.

Goldner v. SSA (D. Md.) -- finding that: (1) agency reasonably searched for names and contact information of claimant representatives by utilizing its "Modernized Claims System" (MCS) database; and (2) although plaintiff sought only business contact information, agency properly relied on Exemption 6 to withhold disputed addresses and telephone numbers because agency was unable to distinguish personal and business information in MCS database. 

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Court opinion issued Dec. 11, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Pub. Emps. for Envtl. Responsibility v. EPA (D.D.C.) -- finding that EPA properly relied on deliberative process privilege to withhold thirteen documents concerning toxic contamination at schools in Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, but that agency failed to carry burden of proof with respect to six other documents withheld in full or in part pursuant to same privilege.   

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Court opinions issued Dec. 4, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Powell v. IRS (D.D.C.) -- determining that: (1) several of plaintiff's FOIA requests were moot because agency released all responsive records; and (2) agency demonstrated that it performed reasonable search by submitting declaration containing "three essential statements that courts require: the search terms used, the database or locations searched, and an averment that all locations likely to contain responsive records were searched."  

Rojas v. FAA (D. Ariz.) -- in case involving multiple requests pertaining to agency's policy change for hiring Air Traffic Control Specialists, finding that: (1) agency properly refused to confirm or deny existence of complaints against named individual; and (2) agency improperly relied on privacy exemptions to redact email subject lines, case numbers, attachment files, and various other records; (3) agency failed to justify its use of Exemption 7(A).    

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.

Court opinions issued Nov. 30 & Dec. 1, 2017

Court Opinions (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Dec. 1, 2017

Judicial Watch v. Nat'l Archives & Records Admin. (D.C. Cir.) -- affirming district court's decision that agency properly relied on Exemption 7(C) to withhold copies of any indictments against Hillary Clinton arising out of Independent Counsel's investigation.

Keeping Gov't Beholden v. DOJ (D.D.C.) -- denying plaintiff's request for expedited review under Federal Courts Civil Priorities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1657, because plaintiff failed to show "manifest good cause." 

Nov. 30, 2017

Ecological Rights Found. v. Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency (N.D. Cal.) -- determining that: (1) agency properly used the date it began to search for documents as cut-off date; (2) agency failed to demonstrate propriety of its withholdings pursuant to deliberative process and attorney work-product privileges; notably, the court cited agency's statutory obligation to show reasonably foreseeable harm; (3) Exemption 6 did not protect names of individuals or contact information appearing in records concerning National Flood Insurance Program; and (4) plaintiff was entitled to declaratory relief "because FEMA has repeatedly failed to comply with its express statutory requirements."

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.