SAN FRANCISCO — An advocacy group has filed suit against a government agency for allegedly withholding requested documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Ecological Rights Foundation filed a complaint Sept. 14 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), alleging that the government agency violated the FOIA.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the Ecological Rights Foundation is aware that under the FOIA, a government agency upon any request for records shall make the records available promptly. The plaintiff requested documents from FEMA under the FOIA related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultations pertaining to the implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The plaintiff  claims it expected the defendant to comply, since the records sought are supposedly crucial for the public to understand how the NFIP can impact development and wildlife habitat. 

The plaintiff holds FEMA responsible because the defendant allegedly failed to respond to the plaintiff’s requests within the deadlines mandated by FOIA and has withheld documents without adequate justification.

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks declaratory judgment of FOIA violation, an injunction ordering release of requested documents, attorneys fees, costs and further relief as the court deems just. It is represented by Christopher Sproul of Environmental Advocates in San Francisco and Fredric Evenson of Law Offices of Fredric Evenson in Santa Cruz.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case number 3:16-cv-05254

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA - 94102

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