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District Court Decisions

Landmark Legal Found. v. EPA, No. 12-1726, 2012 WL 6644362 (D.D.C. Dec. 21, 2012) (Lamberth, J.). Holding: Denying motion for preliminary injunction. The court finds that plaintiff has not shown the necessary likelihood of success on the merits in order to qualify for a preliminary injunction because plaintiff has not shown that it is "primarily engaged in information dissemination" or that there is an "urgency to inform" the public. As the court notes, plaintiff "has only stated that 'as part of its mission as a tax-exempt, public interest law firm, Landmark investigates, litigates, and publicizes instances of improper and/or illegal government activity' and that '[a]mong [its] primary activities is to disseminate [information] to the public about the conduct of governmental agencies.'" The court holds that this "is not sufficient to show that [plaintiff] is primarily, and not just incidentally, engaged in information dissemination and thus the Court cannot now find that [plaintiff] meets this prong of the compelling need test. A contrary reading of the statutory requirement would allow nearly any organization with a website, newsletter, or other information distribution channel to qualify as primarily engaged in disseminating information."

The court goes on to find that even if the plaintiff could show that it is primarily engaged in information dissemination, it still could not show an urgency to inform. The court rejects plaintiff's argument that the "urgency to inform arose from the fact that the records related to matters of tremendous public interest, that the 'health and wellbeing of the public and economic wellbeing of the country are at stake with improper environmental regulation,' and that the EPA's potential delay in rulemaking should be considered by the American public before voting in the elections." The court rejects the notion that a matter is urgent merely because it is of public interest or concerns the public's health and economic well-being. With regard to the arguments concerning the election, the court notes that "given the breadth of issues at play in a presidential election, such a justification would likely sweep almost any FOIA request into the ambit of 'urgency' since FOIA requests are regularly designed to elicit information about how the government is performing its work," and expresses doubt that this meets the standard either. The court also finds that plaintiff has not shown why the fact that "[t]he proposed rule has a comment period ending before Landmark is set to receive a response to its FOIA request," creates an "urgency to inform."

Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area v. U.S. Dep't of the Treasury, No. 07-2590, 2009 WL 2905963 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 8, 2009) (Hamilton, J.). Because "[it] failed to adequately develop the arguments and authority in support of such a request," the court denied plaintiff's request for expedited processing.

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