Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Re: Motion for fee award for fees incurred in order to retain an expert; original request for records concerning "the solicitation, evaluation, and award of contracts by BOP to provide, maintain, and operate private detention facilities for foreign nationals serving criminal sentences imposed by the federal courts" Disposition: Granting plaintiff's motion for interim fee award
- Attorney Fees: The court awards plaintiff fees in the amount of $21,393.00. The court first determines that plaintiff is eligible for a fee award because he has substantially prevailed. Plaintiff obtained an order directing "BOP to release all information previously withheld under Exemption 4, except for certain 'pricing information' which was to be considered at an evidentiary hearing." With regard to pricing information, BOP voluntarily released pricing information after plaintiff "discovered that certain pricing information had been released in a public bond offering . . . by one of the contractors."The court also finds that plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney's fees. The court determines that there is a public benefit to release of the information The release provides a benefit by "(1) contributing to 'the growing public body of knowledge concerning the privatization of governmental entities,' … namely BOP's efforts to privatize its operations; (2) casting light on the conditions of confinement imposed on immigrants held in privately operated BOP facilities; and (3) promoting scholarly research regarding the private corrections industry." The court also notes that "it is undisputed that [plaintiff] has pursued this matter solely to promote public understanding of BOP's contracting processes, has no commercial interest in this case, and will derive no pecuniary benefit from it." Finally, the court concludes that "BOP did not have a reasonable basis for withholding documents under Exemption 4." The court also held that an interim award before final adjudication was appropriate. Plaintiff "submitted evidence of hardship. Of the $19,620.00 billed by ECONorthwest, [plaintiff] has paid $10,000.00, leaving a balance due of $9,620.00 which is accruing interest at the rate of 1% a month, with a current balance of $1,773.00." The court also finds that BOP "unreasonably prolonged these proceedings." Third, the court notes that the case has been pending since 2009. Finally, the court decides that the fourth factor, "'the period of time likely to be required before the litigation is concluded'" is "indeterminate given the pending unresolved issues." The court declines to address the plaintiff's alternate motion for sanctions under FRCP 56(h) because it concluded plaintiff was entitled to an interim award of fees.
Updated August 6, 2014