Skip to main content

Franklin v. United States, No. 20-1303, 2021 WL 4458377 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 29, 2021) (Godbey, J.)


Franklin v. United States, No. 20-1303, 2021 WL 4458377 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 29, 2021) (Godbey, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning tax penalties assessed against plaintiff

Disposition:  Denying plaintiff's motion for attorney fees

  • Attorney Fees, Eligibility:  The court holds that "[b]ased on this factual background, [plaintiff] can demonstrate eligibility . . . ."  "As it must at this stage, the Court takes as true [plaintiff's] allegations that his request unambiguously requested the withheld document, that he attempted to clarify that the IRS had fully complied, and that he made other attempts to obtain documentary proof of the IRS's procedural compliance before instituting this proceeding."  "The Government does not seriously dispute any of these allegations or provide any reason why the IRS failed to make the disclosure."  "From this, the Court infers that the IRS would not have disclosed the information absent this proceeding."
  • Attorney Fees, Entitlement:  The court holds that "[t]hese factors weigh against awarding attorney's fees and costs in this case."  "Although the final factor must go against the Government because it has not advanced any justification for the failure to make the disclosure in response to the initial FOIA request, the other factors weigh more strongly against [plaintiff]."  "The first two factors largely merge:  The document sought has little to no public interest value and [plaintiff] sought it solely to use in challenging his personal tax liability."  "Given the public-minded purpose of FOIA courts give less weight to suits challenging allegedly wrongful withholding of information that only has relevancy to a specific individual for that individual's pecuniary gain."  "And the third factor weighs even more heavily against awarding fees and costs."  "[Plaintiff] lacks a substantial interest in the records, insofar as he did not actually want the IRS to disclose the document at issue."  "In fact, [plaintiff] hoped that no such document actually existed."  "The nonexistence of such a document animates [plaintiff's] underlying objection to the validity of the penalties, which motivated this action."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Attorney Fees
Updated October 28, 2021