Gatore v. United States Department of Homeland Security

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ____________________________________ ) RICA GATORE, et al., ) ) Plaintiffs, ) ) v. ) Civil Action No. 15-459 (RBW) ) UNITED STATES DEPARMENT ) OF HOMELAND SECURITY, ) ) Defendant. ) ____________________________________) MEMORANDUM OPINION Catholic Charities and eight individual plaintiffs brought this civil action against the defendant, the United States Department of Homeland Security, under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552 (2012), seeking, inter alia, documents relating to the defendant’s processing of FOIA requests for the assessments of asylum officers. See Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 1–4, 61. Currently pending before the Court is Catholic Charities’ Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment as to Ninth Cause of Action (“Pl.’s Renewed Summ. J. Mot.”), which actually seeks an award of attorney’s fees and costs because Catholic Charities was awarded summary judgment on its ninth cause of action. Upon careful consideration of the parties’ submissions, 1 the Court concludes for the reasons set forth below that it must grant Catholic Charities’ motion. 1 In addition to the filings already identified, the Court considered the following submissions in rendering its decision: (1) the Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgment (“Pl.’s Mem.”); (2) the Defendant’s Response to the Court’s Order to Show Cause Regarding Attorney’s Fees (“Def.’s Resp.”); (3) Plaintiff Catholic Charities’ Reply to [Defendant’s] Response Regarding Order to Show Cause (“Pl.’s Reply”); (4) the Defendant’s Notice of Supplemental Authority (“Def.’s Notice”); (5) the Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment as to Ninth Cause of Action (“Pl.’s Summ. J. Mot.”); and (6) the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Certify Class, and Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (“Def.’s Summ. J. Mot.”). I. BACKGROUND The Court’s opinions and prior orders set forth in detail the factual and procedural history of this case, and therefore, the Court finds it unnecessary to reiterate that history here. However, the following summary is relevant to Catholic Charities’ present request for attorney’s fees and costs. On February 13, 2015, Catholic Charities submitted a FOIA request to the defendant seeking “[d]ocuments relating to the processing, answering, and responding to FOIA requests for assessments of asylum officers.” Am. Compl., Exhibit (“Ex.”) 9 (Catholic Charities’ FOIA Request). 2 On February 18, 2015, the defendant requested additional time to process the request, citing “unusual circumstances.” See Def.’s Summ. J. Mot., Ex. 1 (Declaration of Jill A. Eggleston (July 21, 2015)), Ex. H (Letter from Jill A. Eggleston, Director, FOIA Operations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Servs., to David L. Cleveland, Catholic Charities of Washington (Feb. 18, 2015)) at 1. The plaintiffs’ amended complaint alleged as its ninth cause of action that the “[d]efendant . . . provided nothing in response” to Catholic Charities’ FOIA request. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 61–62. On June 24, 2015, still having received no documents in response to its request, Catholic Charities filed a motion for summary judgment as to its ninth cause of action. See Pl.’s ...

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