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Case Name NAACP v. Department of Commerce PB-CT-0014
Docket / Court 3:17-cv-01682 ( D. Conn. )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Case Summary
On October 5, 2017, the NAACP together with its Boston and Connecticut branches filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut against the U.S. Department of Commerce (the parent agency of the U.S. Census Bureau) to compel prompt compliance with its request for ... read more >
On October 5, 2017, the NAACP together with its Boston and Connecticut branches filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut against the U.S. Department of Commerce (the parent agency of the U.S. Census Bureau) to compel prompt compliance with its request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552. Plaintiffs sought expeditious disclosure of the Bureau’s plans for digitization, reaching “hard-to-count” populations, hiring practices, and other preparations for the 2020 census, as well as a declaration that plaintiffs were entitled to a full fee waiver and an award of any costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Plaintiffs alleged that the defendant had violated 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i) for failing to respond to the initial complaint within 20 days, 15 C.F.R. § 4.6(f)(4) for failure to respond to their request for expedited processing, and § 552(a)(4)(iii) for erroneously denying plaintiffs’ public interest fee waiver.

Back on June 29, 2017, plaintiffs had first submitted a FOIA request to the Census Bureau relating to the 2020 census. They were concerned about the digitalization, understaffing, and underfunding of the Bureau that could lead to undercounting of minority populations and security vulnerabilities.

In this lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged that the Bureau failed to respond to that request within 20 days after it received the request as required by law. However, the Bureau claimed that it did not receive the request until July 6. Then, on August 7, the Bureau gave itself a month-long extension. The plaintiffs claimed the extension cited the wrong statute, failed to comply with the correct statute’s procedural requirements, and violated a 10-day limit for extensions. The Bureau then delayed an additional month due to purported lack of clarification on two of the requested items. On October 3, the Bureau sent “several internet links and four documents,” saying it would provide additional records on a rolling basis but failing at the time to disclose most of the requested documents. Additionally, the Bureau denied plaintiffs’ fee waiver request on the basis that plaintiffs were not an academic institution.

On March 7, 2018, plaintiffs submitted a second FOIA request that became included in the dispute.

The parties jointly filed a motion to meet and confer on March 19, 2018, which Judge Warren Eginton granted on March 21. However, according to a joint status report filed on June 14, the parties could not reach an agreement.

Defendants then moved for summary judgment on July 26, 2018. The plaintiffs responded with a memo in opposition and a cross motion for discovery on September 17, 2018. On November 5, 2018, defendants agreed to disclose some documents but maintained their motion for summary judgment.

Following several extensions for time, plaintiffs agreed to settled on February 4, 2019. The stipulation was granted by Judge Eginton on February 5. The agreement required defendants to provide most of the documents for both FOIA requests no later than February 14, and all other documents by the end of February or mid-March.

On September 23, 2019, the judge approved an agreement between the parties that the defendants would pay plaintiffs $18,400 for attorneys' fees and costs within 60 days.

There has been no further docket activity that would indicate any disputes over enforcement occurred. So, the case is likely closed.

Jack Kanarek - 11/20/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Required disclosure
General
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) U.S. Census Bureau
Plaintiff Description The NAACP together with its Boston and Connecticut branches
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Document/information produced
Attorneys fees
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 10/05/2017
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  2020 Census Litigation
(The Brennan Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Conn.
09/23/2019
3:17-cv-01682-WWE
PB-CT-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Conn.
10/05/2017
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-CT-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
02/04/2019
Stipulation and Order of Settlement [ECF# 48]
PB-CT-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
09/21/2019
Stipulation for Compromise Settlement and Release of Claims Regarding Fees and Costs [ECF# 51]
PB-CT-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Eginton, Warren William (D. Conn.) show/hide docs
PB-CT-0014-0002 | PB-CT-0014-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berry, Bradford (Maryland) show/hide docs
PB-CT-0014-0001
Craine, Khyla Danielle (Maryland) show/hide docs
PB-CT-0014-0001
Wishnie, Michael J. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PB-CT-0014-0001 | PB-CT-0014-0002 | PB-CT-0014-0003 | PB-CT-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Durham, John H. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PB-CT-0014-0002
Green, Brenda M (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PB-CT-0014-0002 | PB-CT-0014-0003 | PB-CT-0014-9000

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