Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Tipograph v. DOJ, No. 13-239, 2015 WL 1245921 (D.D.C. Mar. 18, 2015) (Cooper, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff's client
Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment
- Exemption 7(A): "[T]he Court finds that the government has met its burden to justify withholding the remainder of the investigative records under Exemption 7(A)." The court explains that "[t]he declarations provide sufficient detail for the Court to trace a rational link between the information contained in the records and the potential interference with law enforcement proceedings." Additionally, defendant's "explanation describes the nature of the information contained in the records, rather than merely the nature of the records themselves, [and, therefore,] it permits the Court to infer a rational link between the records and an investigative purpose."
- Litigation Considerations, Relief: After noting that, "[i]t is within the Court's equitable power to issue a declaratory judgment or injunction in a FOIA matter," "[b]ecause [plaintiff] has not established that forgoing the document-by-document review required by Exemption 7(A) is a widespread practice at the FBI, the Court declines to issue a declaratory judgment or injunction." "But because the Court has doubts about whether the FBI conducted the required review at the administrative stage in this case, it will remind the Bureau of its obligation to perform such reviews in the future."
- Attorney Fees: The court denies plaintiff's request for attorney fees. The court explains that "[a] plaintiff may not recover attorney's fees in a FOIA action merely because the agency released additional documents after the plaintiff filed a complaint in federal court." "Moreover, [plaintiff] has not demonstrated that she has 'substantially prevailed' in this litigation more generally—as is required to obtain attorney's fees under FOIA—because she has not obtained a 'judicial order,' 'enforceable written agreement or consent decree,' or a 'voluntary or unilateral change in position by the agency.'"
Updated June 18, 2015