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Surgey v. EPA

In January 2018, Nick Surgey, Co-Director of Documented and an investigative journalist, sent a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Environmental Protection Agency for records concerning EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel to and attendance of the 2018 Rose Bowl college football game. EPA failed to respond to the request for over two months. On March 22, 2018, Mr. Surgey, represented by Public Citizen Litigation Group, filed suit seeking disclosure of the requested records.

After Mr. Surgey filed suit, EPA produced some responsive records, withholding some records in part and other records in full under exemptions 6, 7(C), 7(E), and 7(F). The parties then briefed cross-motions for summary judgment, in which Mr. Surgey argued that the EPA’s search was inadequate and challenging several of EPA’s withholdings. Briefing was completed in January 2019. In December 2021, the court granted EPA’s motion in part, but it denied without prejudice EPA’s motion with regard to the adequacy of the search, the withholding of certain logistical coordination and travel details, and segregability. The court ordered the parties to propose a schedule for further briefing on those issues. We then negotiated a settlement of the remaining issues, resolving the case.