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Rojas v. FAA, No. 15-01985, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69796 (D. Az. May 5, 2017) (Wake, S.D.J.)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Rojas v. FAA, No. 15-01985, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69796 (D. Az. May 5, 2017) (Wake, S.D.J.)

Re:  Requests for records concerning defendant's hiring practices, as well as third party employee


Disposition:  Denying plaintiff's motion to amend judgment

  • Attorney Fees, Eligibility:  The court finds that plaintiff is still not eligible for attorney fees.  The court relates that "[i]n granting the FAA's Motion for Summary Judgment, [the] Court denied attorney's fees to [plaintiff]."  "Fees were denied based on the 'prevailing party' standard[.]"  "[Plaintiff] now argues that [the] Court manifestly erred in applying the law by failing to apply the 'catalyst theory,' pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(E), in determining his eligibility for attorney's fees."  The court states that "[plaintiff] failed to inform the Court that § 552(a)(4)(E) had a different standard[,]" but "it is in [the] Court's discretion to reconsider the award of attorney's fees under the catalyst theory."  Regarding one request, "[the] Court has no doubt that [plaintiff's] lawsuit did not catalyze the production of documents."  "The documents were produced only one day after the FAA received service of the lawsuit."  "What triggered the release was not the law suit but rather the Request making its way through the regular FOIA process."  The court finds that "[t]he FAA has provided specific and persuasive evidence that they were working on the request before this action was filed and any delay was due to a good faith effort by the FAA in attempting to respond to the request."  Regarding two other requests, the court finds that "[t]here was no information delivered for either of those claims, so [plaintiff] is not eligible."
  • Attorney Fees, Entitlement:  The court also notes that "even if [plaintiff] were eligible, [the] Court in its sound discretion would find he is not entitled to an award of attorney's fees."  The court finds that while "[plaintiff's] mixed interest in obtaining the documents would weigh in favor of attorney's fees being awarded[,]" "[plaintiff's] briefs are silent on what the public could have learned from these records once published[]" and "[s]ince delay was due to the administrative process, it was reasonable and not in not bad faith."
Attorney Fees
District Court
Updated January 23, 2018