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Judicial Watch • JW v IRS HHS complaint 00615

JW v IRS HHS complaint 00615

JW v IRS HHS complaint 00615

Page 1: JW v IRS HHS complaint 00615

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Number of Pages:6

Date Created:April 6, 2017

Date Uploaded to the Library:April 06, 2017

Tags:00615, Avenue, Internal, Revenue, Human, health, defendants, Services, HHS, complaint, service, defendant, filed, plaintiff, document, records, FOIA, department, Washington, IRS


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Case 1:17-cv-00615 Document Filed 04/06/17 Page THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.,
425 Third Street, SW, Suite 800
Washington, 20024,
Plaintiff,
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE,
1111 Constitution Avenue,
Washington, 20224,
and
U.S. DEPARTMENT HEALTH HUMAN SERVICES
200 Independence Avenue,
Washington, 20201,
Defendants.
Civil Action No.
COMPLAINT
Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. brings this action against Defendants Internal Revenue
Service and U.S. Department Health and Human Services compel compliance with the
Freedom Information Act, U.S.C. 552 FOIA grounds therefor, Plaintiff alleges
follows:
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
The Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(B)
and U.S.C. 1331.
Venue proper this district pursuant U.S.C. 1391(e).
Case 1:17-cv-00615 Document Filed 04/06/17 Page
PARTIES
Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. not-for-profit, educational organization
incorporated under the laws the District Columbia and headquartered 425 Third Street
SW, Suite 800, Washington, 20024. Plaintiff seeks promote transparency, integrity, and
accountability government and fidelity the rule law. part its mission, Plaintiff
regularly requests records from federal agencies pursuant FOIA. Plaintiff analyzes the
agencies responses and disseminates both its findings and the requested records the American
public inform them about what their government to.
Defendant Internal Revenue Service agency the United States
Government and headquartered 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, 20224.
Defendant Internal Revenue Service has possession, custody, and control records which
Plaintiff seeks access.
Defendant U.S. Department Health and Human Services agency the
U.S. Government and headquartered 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington D.C.
20201. Defendant U.S. Department Health and Human Services has possession, custody, and
control records which Plaintiff seeks access.
STATEMENT FACTS November 15, 2016, Plaintiff submitted FOIA request Defendant Internal
Revenue Service seeking access the following records: Any and all records concerning, regarding, relating IRS efforts reach out
individuals who either claimed exemption paid penalty for failing purchase
mandatory health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Such records include, but are not limited to, communications, policies, and
procedures pursuant such efforts; Samples any letters, notices other materials prepared and/or sent taxpayers
encouraging the purchase mandatory health insurance;
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Case 1:17-cv-00615 Document Filed 04/06/17 Page Any and all records concerning, regarding, relating cooperation between IRS
and the Department Health and Human Services any other government entity,
whether state federal, regarding efforts reach out individuals who have not
purchased mandatory health insurance. Such records, include, but are not limited to,
communications, agreements, memoranda understanding, and any other interagency communications. special interest are any such records regarding the
sharing protected taxpayer information.
Please note that this request not seeking private taxpayer information but records
communications, policies, and procedures related the above-referenced outreach and
samples materials prepared send taxpayers result.
According U.S. Postal Service records, the request was delivered Defendant
Internal Revenue Service November 18, 2016. letter dated December 19, 2016, Defendant Internal Revenue Service
acknowledged receipt Plaintiff request and advised Plaintiff that the request had been
assigned Case Number F17326-0113. Defendant further advised that would need the
additional ten-day statutory extension and thereby extended its response date January 2017. the same letter, Defendant Internal Revenue Service stated that would not able locate
and consider release the requested records the January 2017 deadline and requested
extension until April 2017 provide final response. Plaintiff has received further
communications from Defendant Internal Revenue Service concerning the status Defendant
response Plaintiff FOIA request. November 15, 2016, Plaintiff submitted FOIA request Defendant U.S.
Department Health and Human Services seeking access the following records: Any and all records concerning, regarding, relating HHS efforts reach out
individuals who either claimed exemption paid penalty for failing purchase
mandatory health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Such records include, but are not limited to, communications, policies, and
procedures pursuant such efforts; Any letters, notices other materials prepared and/or sent individuals encouraging
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Case 1:17-cv-00615 Document Filed 04/06/17 Page
the purchase mandatory health insurance; Any and all records concerning, regarding, relating cooperation between HHS
and the Internal Revenue Service any other government entity, state federal,
regarding efforts reach out individuals who have not purchased mandatory
health insurance. Such records, include, but are not limited to, communications,
agreements, memoranda understanding, and other inter-agency communications.
10. e-mail dated December 12, 2016, Defendant U.S. Department Health and
Human Services acknowledged receipt Plaintiff FOIA request November 30, 2016 and
advised Plaintiff that the request had been assigned case number 2017-00153-FOIA-OS.
Defendant U.S. Department Health and Human Services advised that Plaintiff would receive
final response from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS Plaintiff has
received further communications from Defendant U.S. Department Health and Human
Service concerning the status Defendant response Plaintiff FOIA request.
11. the date this Complaint, Defendants Internal Revenue Service and U.S.
Department Health and Human Services have failed to: (i) produce the requested records
demonstrate that the requested records are lawfully exempt from production; (ii) notify Plaintiff the scope any responsive records Defendants intend produce withhold and the reasons
for any withholdings; (iii) inform Plaintiff that may appeal any adequately specific, adverse
determination.
COUNT
Violation FOIA, U.S.C. 552
12.
Plaintiff realleges paragraphs through fully stated herein.
13.
Plaintiff being irreparably harmed reason Defendants violation FOIA,
and Plaintiff will continue irreparably harmed unless Defendants are compelled comply
with FOIA.
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Case 1:17-cv-00615 Document Filed 04/06/17 Page
14. trigger FOIA administrative exhaustion requirement, Defendants Internal
Revenue Service and U.S. Department Health and Human Services were required
determine whether comply with Plaintiff request within twenty (20) working days
receiving the request. Specifically, Defendant Internal Revenue Service was required
determine whether comply with Plaintiff request about January 2017 and Defendant
U.S. Department Health was required determine whether comply with Plaintiff request about December 29, 2016. minimum, Defendant was required to: (i) gather and
review the requested documents; (ii) determine and communicate Plaintiff the scope any
responsive records Defendant intended produce withhold and the reasons for any
withholdings; and (iii) inform Plaintiff that may appeal any adequately specific, adverse
determination. See, e.g., Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics Washington Federal
Election Commission, 711 F.3d 180, 188-89 (D.C. Cir. 2013).
15.
Because Defendants Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department Health and
Human Services failed determine whether comply with Plaintiff requests within the time
period required FOIA, Plaintiff deemed have exhausted its administrative appeal
remedies. U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(C)(i).
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court: (1) order Defendants
Internal Revenue Services and U.S. Department Health and Human Services conduct
searches for any and all records responsive Plaintiff FOIA requests and demonstrate that
employed search methods reasonably likely lead the discovery records responsive
Plaintiff FOIA requests; (2) order Defendants Internal Revenue Services and U.S. Department Health and Human Services produce, date certain, any and all non-exempt records
responsive Plaintiff FOIA requests and Vaughn index any responsive records withheld
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Case 1:17-cv-00615 Document Filed 04/06/17 Page
under claim exemption; (3) enjoin Defendants Internal Revenue Services and U.S. Department Health and Human Services from continuing withhold any and all non-exempt records
responsive Plaintiff FOIA requests; (4) grant Plaintiff award attorneys fees and other
litigation costs reasonably incurred this action pursuant U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(E); and (5)
grant Plaintiff such other relief the Court deems just and proper.
Dated: April 2017
Respectfully submitted,
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.
/s/ Ramona Cotca
Ramona Cotca
D.C. Bar No. 501159
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC.
425 Third Street S.W., Suite 800
Washington, 20024
(202) 646-5172
rcotca@judicialwatch.org
Counsel for Plaintiff
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