Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Competitive Enterprise Institute v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

January 28, 2016

COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, Defendant

          For COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE, Plaintiff: Hans Frank Bader, LEAD ATTORNEY, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE, Washington, DC.

         For UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, Defendant: Alice Shih LaCour, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, DC.

         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (" CEI" ), filed this case against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (" EPA" ) to challenge the agency's schedule for producing records under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (" FOIA" ). Since during the pendency of the action, the parties agreed upon a mutually acceptable timetable for a rolling production, and that production is complete, the lawsuit is now moot, and there are no grounds that would support retaining jurisdiction over the matter.

         The case arises out of plaintiff's 2012 request for " emails sent to or from a false-identity email account created for certain official correspondence for then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in the name of 'Richard Windsor.'" Compl. [Dkt. # 1] ¶ 1. It called for " copies of any and all email sent to or from an EPA employee in the Office of the Administrator (OA) from or to an email account in the name of, or email alias, 'Richard Windsor,' from December 15, 2008 to the date you process this request . . . ." Compl. ¶ 21. The request called for " all" emails over several years, and it was not limited to any particular subject matter. Compl. ¶ 21. In response to the request, EPA identified approximately 120,000 responsive records, which it announced it would produce at a rate of 100 records per month " to fairly manage [its] limited resources so as to equitably respond to other Americans who have submitted FOIA requests . . . ." Compl. ¶ 28.

         The gravamen of plaintiff's complaint was that this extremely slow pace of production was tantamount to a failure to produce the records at all in violation of FOIA. The first sentence of the first paragraph of the complaint announces: " [t]his is an action under [FOIA] to compel production under a FOIA request . . . ." Compl.¶ 1. The pleading chides the agency for its " glacial and wholly improper rate of production," Compl. ¶ 7, and it alleges that " EPA's actions constitute improper means of delaying or otherwise denying plaintiff access to public records." Compl. ¶ 14. The claim for relief summarizes CEI's position:

Plaintiff has sought and been denied production of responsive records reflecting the conduct of official business. Plaintiff has a statutory right to the information it seeks and defendant has unlawfully withheld, and failed to provide, responsive records.

Compl. ¶ 46.

         According to plaintiff, by insisting upon the 100 records per month schedule, which would take 100 years, " EPA improperly refuse[d] to provide a proper determination as provided by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)," and it " improperly refuse[d] to provide a proper production as provided by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)." Compl. ¶ ¶ 47, 48. Plaintiff CEI also alleged that EPA was " holding several other CEI FOIA requests hostage until it completes processing this request . . . ." Compl. ¶ 8; s ee also Compl. ¶ 16 (" EPA continues to refuse to process this request in line with its custom and practice (in addition to refusing to act on CEI's other requests) . . . ." ); Compl. ¶ 30 (referencing an EPA email " informing plaintiff that it would process other CEI requests, as well as a request submitted by [its counsel] for a non-CEI entity, after it completed processing [the November 12, 2012 request]." ).

         Based on these allegations, plaintiff sought both a declaratory judgment and an injunction. Count I asked the Court to enter a judgment declaring that:

Plaintiff CEI is entitled to a reasonable volume of production for its FOIA request . . . but EPA failed to do so;
Plaintiff CEI is entitled to a response and production under FOIA free from consideration of or prejudice grounded in its identity, but did not receive such treatment;
EPA's response to plaintiff's FOIA request . . . is not in accordance with the law, and does not satisfy EPA's obligations under FOIA;
EPA must process plaintiff's requests . . . with productions at a reasonable rate; [and]
EPA must process CEI's requests without adversely considering CEI's identity or discriminating against it[.]

Compl. ¶ 52.

         Count II sought " injunctive relief compelling EPA to produce responsive records at a reasonable rate, free from consideration of or prejudice grounded in [CEI's] identity, subject to legitimate withholdings." Compl. ¶ 54. Specifically, plaintiff asked the Court to order EPA:

1) To produce all of the requested documents within ten days of the entry of the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.