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DES MOINES REGISTER & TRIBUNE CO. v. U.S. DOJ

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


March 31, 1983

DES MOINES REGISTER AND TRIBUNE COMPANY AND TOM KNUDSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION Defendant

The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY

ORDER

 Before the Court are defendant's motion for summary judgment, plaintiffs' opposition thereto, plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and for an award of attorneys' fees and costs, defendant's opposition thereto, and the entire record herein. In its motion for summary judgment, defendant justifies the deletions it made in the documents produced to plaintiffs. As is made plain in plaintiffs' opposition to defendant's motion, plaintiffs do not contest the deletions made from the documents defendant disclosed. Plaintiffs simply seek an award of attorneys' fees and costs on the ground that the bulk of the documents disclosed by defendant were disclosed only after plaintiffs filed this suit.

 This Circuit has plainly stated, however, that "an allegedly prevailing complainant must assert something more than post hoc, ergo propter hoc " to ground an award of attorneys' fees. Cox v. Department of Justice, 601 F.2d 1, 6 (D.C. Cir. 1979); Leichty v. C.I.A., 3 G.D.S. P 82,482 (D.D.C. 1982). The party seeking fees "must show (1) that prosecution of the action could reasonably be regarded as necessary to obtain the information . . . and (2) that a causal nexus exists between that action and the agency's surrender of the information." Id. Because of the somewhat odd manner in which this action has proceeded, plaintiffs have never adequately addressed this standard, nor has defendant ever categorically stated that its disclosure of the vast majority of the documents sought by plaintiff was independent of the initiation of this suit.

 Accordingly, it is, by the Court, this 31 day of March, 1983,

 ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted as to the deletions in the documents it produced pursuant to plaintiffs' request, although jurisdiction is retained with respect to the question of attorneys' fees, and it is

 FURTHER ORDERED that, on or before April 8, 1983, plaintiffs shall submit, in writing, any evidence they may have that the prosecution of this action was necessary in order to obtain the information they sought and that the defendant's disclosure of information was causally connected with plaintiffs' filing of this suit, and it is

 FURTHER ORDERED that, on or before April 15, 1983, defendant shall certify to the Court whether its disclosure of the vast majority of the documents sought by plaintiff was independent of the initiation of this suit, and may, if it wishes, respond to the above submission requested of plaintiffs.

19830331

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