Tag Archives: Public Benefit

Meeting the “public benefit” standard in FOIA attorney fees cases.

In FOIA attorney fee cases, courts have created a false dichotomy between those requests for information that are in the public interest and those that further a private commercial interest, except those private commercial interests represented by mainstream media.  This distinction fails to consider that the commercial frequently becomes political.  For example, look at what happened when Eller & Co, a South Florida-based terminal and stevedoring company,  raised a stink about becoming “involuntary partner” of DP World – the Dubai Ports World Scandal, ultimately leading to a vigorous debate on issues of national security in our ports.  The purpose of this post is to identify a principle that would allow a corporation or individual not involved in media to satisfy the public interest test for attorney fees.

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Judge Randolph’s Concurrence in Burka v US Dept. of Health and Human Services

I have just started looking into FOIA Attorney Fees, and one thing I had found curious is that even though the statutory provision for attorney fees for FOIA applicants has fewer criteria than other provisions, such as EAJA, the courts have applied additional criteria to FOIA attorney fees, making an application MORE difficult.  I wrote about the statutes here.

It seems I am not alone.  Judge Randolph wrote a concurrence in Burka v. US Dept. of Health and Human Servs., 142 F. 3d 1286 (D.C. Cir. 1998) that raised the same concerns.  His concurrence argues much more eloquently than I could: Continue reading