- Case Disclosed
MFIA frequently represents clients seeking access to information that will improve public understanding of government operations, including law enforcement activities, that promote affirmative disclosure practices, or that enforce procedures intended to speed the release of information. Our current cases include:
Algorithmic Accountability Project
The algorithmic accountability project promotes transparency in Connecticut state agencies’ use of algorithms — ubiquitous tools that can both help human decision-making but also lead to disparate results if unchecked. In this project, Yale Law students, partnering with Information Society Project fellows, research the ways in which Connecticut agencies use algorithms, including by submitting Freedom of Information Act requests to those agencies. Once this research is complete, students will propose legislative solutions to improve algorithmic accountability and transparency.
In collaboration with Human Rights Watch, the MFIA clinic has submitted a series of FOIAs to the U.S. military seeking documents detailing mistreatment of detainees in Afghanistan. These requests come on the heels of the commencement of an ICC investigation into these abuses. The clinic has filed the requests with all branches of the military.
MFIA is supporting the PrEP4All Collaboration’s efforts to increase transparency at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and improve access to a once-a-day pill that prevents HIV.
Working with the Yale’s Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency (CRIT), the Clinic represents NYU Journalism Professor Charles Seife in a FOIA lawsuit against the FDA. Professor Seife seeks correspondence and other records related to FDA’s controversial approval of Exondys 51 for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. MFIA filed suit in May 2017. The Clinic is litigating over whether the use of routine and commonly known test procedures can be withheld as “confidential commercial information” under FOIA Exemption 4, which was recently reinterpreted by the Supreme Court in FMI v. Argus Leader.
Seife v. HHS (ClinicalTrials.gov)
MFIA represents leading medical researchers Charles Seife and Dr. Peter Lurie in lawsuit demanding access to information on clinical trials of prescription drugs and medical devices. The suit is an Administrative Procedure Act action that seeks a court order compelling the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to interpret the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA) faithfully and to comply with their legal obligations to notify the public of failure to report clinical trial results on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.
The Clinic represents New York Times reporter Eileen Sullivan in an action to compel the release records on the investigation and possible regulation of “bump stocks” by the federal government. The lawsuit promoted the production of tens of thousands of pages of material, and the productions are continuing, as the case remains pending.
New York Times v. Dep’t of Defense
The Clinic represents the New York Times and its reporter Carol Rosenberg in a FOIA lawsuit seeking documents related to the firing of Admiral John Ring, the former commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison. Last year we received a copy of the command investigation report, which was extensively redacted. The Clinic has assisted the Times’ attorneys in negotiations over the redactions and has prepared for summary judgment briefing, which is currently delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
New York Times v. Treasury Department
The Clinic has sued the Treasury Department over its refusal to grant a FOIA request seeking several officials’ email communications likely to shed light on the extent to which lobbyists and others may be influencing agency decision-making. The Clinic drafted and filed a complaint and is currently in negotiations over the production of documents while also preparing for a likely summary judgment motion.
New York Times v. Food and Drug Administration
This lawsuit seeks records related to the FDA’s program of “fast-tracking” the approval of medical devices developed by certain companies – the program entitles companies that meet certain criteria to a quicker and less rigorous oversight process. Through negotiations with the agency we obtained additional documents and more complete descriptions of withheld and redacted material. We are currently preparing for a likely summary judgment motion.
Ryan Scoville v. State Department
The Clinic is representing Prof. Ryan Scoville of Marquette University Law School in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that challenges the State Department’s chronically slow responses to FOIA requests.
For a list of previous matters, please see the MFIA Archive.