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District Court Decisions

Comptel v. FCC, No. 06-1718, 2012 WL 6604528 (D.D.C. Dec. 19, 2012) (Lamberth, J.). Holding: Denying cross-motions for summary judgment and ordering FCC to file an amended declaration and Vaughn index. The court holds that "[i]t would be inappropriate for the Court to issue declaratory relief that the FCC has violated the FOIA when the Court lacks sufficient information to make this determination." It notes that plaintiff's "request may be satisfied through summary judgment."

Inst. for Pol'y Stud. v. CIA, No. 06-960, 2012 WL 3301028 (D.D.C. Aug. 14, 2012) (Lamberth, J.). Holding: Granting, in part, defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis that certain withholdings under Exemptions 1, 2, 3 and 7(E) were proper and that plaintiff conceded other withholdings under Exemptions 2, 3, 6, 7(C), 7(D) and 7(F), and that all reasonably segregable material was released; denying plaintiff's motion to strike portions of the declarations; and ordering CIA to conduct searches for responsive records in three different directorates which were not initially searched. The court denies plaintiff's request for declaratory relief based on the CIA's failure to respond to its FOIA appeal within twenty days. The court finds that "[i]n light of the remedy of initiating a cause of action within federal court provided by FOIA, . . . declaratory judgment for the plaintiff on this point is improper." Mootness:The court denies as moot plaintiff's argument that it is entitled to declaratory relief where defendant initially denied its fee waiver request but ultimately waived fees as a matter of administrative discretion. The court determines that "the fact that plaintiff might at some point in the future file another FOIA claim and that defendant might then refuse to waive fees is no more than speculative."

Hajro v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., No. 08-1350, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117964 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 12, 2011) (Grewal,Mag.). Holding: Dismissing FOIA claims brought against individual defendants; holding that party who did not submit FOIA request at issue has standing to assert a "pattern or practice" claim under FOIA; granting declaratory relief that defendant engaged in pattern or practice of failing to abide by FOIA; granting plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief; concluding that defendant is required to release certain non-exempt information previously withheld pursuant to Exemption 5; concluding defendant's FOIA processing policy violates a previous settlement agreement as well as the terms of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the FOIA; dismissing a claim brought under APA; and granting partial summary judgment to defendants on plaintiffs' equal protection claims. The court awards summary judgment to plaintiffs on the basis that they have "establish[ed] a pattern or practice of FOIA violations" by USCIS's actions in repeatedly exceeding the twenty-day response time for requests. The court finds that "[d]efendants have not offered evidence to the contrary, pointed out inconsistencies in the record that would suggest a genuine issue of fact for trial, or come forward with even assertions that USCIS is in compliance with the timing requirements of FOIA." With respect to plaintiffs' request for a permanent injunction, the court notes that such relief is available "in order to remedy a pattern and practice of FOIA violations by an agency where there is 'a probability that alleged illegal conduct will recur in the future.'" Here, the court finds that injunctive relief is warranted based on the "repeated occurrence of the delays and lack of any indication by Defendants of efforts to cease such violations in the future," "the history of past violations by USCIS and its predecessor agency," and the fact that "the effect on the public of disclosure or nondisclosure is substantial where the information sought is not available through any other means." Based on these findings, the court grants plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief and "require[es] USCIS to: 1) provide a copy of the requestor's file within the twenty-day time limit mandated by 5 U.S.C. §552(a)(6)(A); and 2) give the written notice mandated by 5 U.S.C. §552 (a)(6)(B) if an extension of time is needed due to 'unusual circumstances.'"

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