2009-11-06 Complaint for Injunctive Relief by saj38576

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                         UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
                     FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
                              SOUTHERN DIVISION

WOOD LAW FIRM, LLC,                    )
a Missouri limited liability company,  )
1736 East Sunshine, Suite 517          )
Springfield, MO 65804                  )
                                       )
                           Plaintiff,  )
                                       )




                                                                                e
v.                                     )                    Case No. 6:09-CV-3420




                                                                              ic
                                       )
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, )




                                                                 rv
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW           )
Washington, DC 20220                   )




                                                               Se
                                       )
and                                    )
                                       )
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,            )
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW            )
                                                         s
                                                ew
Washington, DC 20530-0001              )
                                       )
                           Defendants. )
                                           N

                        COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
                       UNDER FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
                                 se



       1.      This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, for
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injunctive and other appropriate relief, seeking the disclosure and release of agency records
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improperly withheld from plaintiff by defendant Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and its

components Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and defendant U.S. Department of the
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Treasury (“Treasury”) and its component Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).
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                                    Jurisdiction and Venue

       2.      This Court has both subject matter jurisdiction over this action and personal

jurisdiction over the parties pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). This court also has jurisdiction

over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Venue lies in this district under 5 U.S.C. §




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552(a)(4)(B).

         3.      Plaintiff Wood Law Firm, LLC is a Missouri limited liability company with an

office within the Western District of Missouri, whose members are engaged in the practice of

law in the State for Missouri, and are members of the Bar of this Court.

         4.      Plaintiff is counsel in a lawsuit now pending in the Circuit Court of Greene

County, Missouri, Case No 31106CC1089 (the “State Court Action”).

         5.      Defendant DOJ is a Department of the Executive Branch of the United States

Government and includes component entity, FBI. The DOJ is an agency within the meaning of 5

U.S.C. § 552(f).

         6.      Defendant Treasury is a Department of the Executive Branch of the United States

Government, and includes component entity OFAC. The Treasury is an agency within the

meaning of 5 U.S.C. § 552(f).

                   The Libyan wSanctions and Libyan Student’s Organization

         7.      On January 7, 1986 President Reagan issued Executive Order No. 12543,

pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. § 1701 et seq.

“IEEPA”), blocking financial transactions and assets of entities related to the Government of

Libya.

         8.      Subsequently the Treasury Department promulgated the Libyan Sanctions

Regulations (31 C.F.R. Part 550, the “LSRs”).

         9.      Among the entities whose assets were blocked was the Virginia non-stock

corporation, the People’s Committee for Students of Libyan Arab Jamahariya, Inc. (the “PCLS”).

         10.     The regulations and orders blocking the assets of the PCLS were not lifted until

September 2004.




	
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            11.   The Plaintiff in the State Court Action is a judgment creditor of the PCLS and the

main issue now pending in State Court Action is a garnishment of Wachovia Bank, N.A. who is

the successor by merger of a bank that had on deposit millions of dollars belonging to the PCLS.

A central factual issue in the case is the scope and nature of any licenses that were issued

permitting the transfer of any blocked funds of the PCLS from January 7, 1986 until September,

2004.

            12.   In the State Court Action there is now pending a motion for summary judgment to

which a response is now due by Monday, December 7, 2009. The information sought by the

subject FOIA requests described below is necessary for adjudication of the pending State Court

Action.

       Plaintiff’s FOIA Requests and Defendant DOJ’s Failure to Respond and Timely Comply
            13.   By letter dated Thursday, January 24, 2008 plaintiff submitted Freedom of

Information Act (“FOIA”) requests to the FBI for records described as:

                  (a)    Bank Statements, bank ledgers, checks, or any other documents regarding

                         any blocked bank accounts in the name of the PCLS.

                  (b)    Any documents referencing or concerning First American Bank, N.A.

                         Account Nos. X-XX3-165, X-XX4-498, X-XX5-308, or X-XX9-650.

                  (c)    Applications for license made by or on behalf of the PCLS, license

                         determinations regarding those applications, and any licenses issued

                         concerning blocked funds of the PCLS.

                  (d)    Reports of blocked funds or applications for license referencing blocked

                         accounts of the PCLS.

                  (e)    Applications for license regarding the transfer of blocked assets from First

                         American Bank N.A., to any successor entity, including Wachovia Bank,


	
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                       N.A. or First Union National Bank, N.A.

               (f)     Applications for license by entities holding blocked funds of the PCLS.

       14.     On February 24, 2008 by form letter the FBI informed plaintiff the FOIA request

had been assigned the request number 1108444-000 and that “we are searching the indices to our

central records system at FBI Headquarters for the information you request, and will inform you

of the results as soon as possible”.

       15.     On March 28, 2008 by form letter the U.S. Department of Justice Executive

Office for United States Attorneys (the “EOUSA”) responded that 79 pages of responsive

records were found in the U.S. Attorney’s Office files and were returned to the Federal Bureau of

Investigation for review and direct response to plaintiff.

       16.     On May 6, 2008 by form letter the FBI informed plaintiff that the FBI was

“searching for, retrieving, scanning, and evaluating files that may be responsive to your request”.

       17.     On August 4, 2008 by form letter the FBI informed plaintiff that the FBI was

“searching for, retrieving, scanning, and evaluating files that may be responsive to your request”.

       18.     On November 10, 2008 by form letter the FBI informed plaintiff that the request

was “being reviewed by an analyst”.

       19.     On April 10, 2009 by form letter the FBI informed plaintiff that the request was

“being reviewed by an analyst”.

       20.     On August 7, 2009 by form letter the FBI informed plaintiff that the request was

“being reviewed by an analyst”.

       21.     On August 28, 2009 by form letter the FBI informed plaintiff that 2523 pages

which were potentially responsive to the request were located and the anticipated charges would

be $242.30 in duplication fees and the request was “being reviewed by an analyst”.




	
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       22.      On October 2, 2009 by form letter the FBI informed plaintiff that the request was

“being reviewed by an analyst”.

       23.      On November 5, 2009 counsel for plaintiff spoke by telephone to Mr. David P.

Sobonya, the FBI’s FOIPA Public Information Officer (PIO) which related that the request was

“being processed” and a date when the request might be complete was not and would not be

available because the FBI receives a large volume of requests.

       24.      To date, the FBI has not provided the records requested by plaintiff in its FOIA

request, not withstanding the FOIA’s requirement of an agency response within twenty (20)

working days.

       25.      The FBI has wrongfully withheld the requested records from plaintiff.

       26.      Plaintiff has exhausted the applicable administrative remedies with respect to its

FOIA request to the FBI, or is deemed to have exhausted such administrative remedies by the

failure of the agency to comply with the applicable time limits set forth in the FOIA.

                              Plaintiff’s FOIA Requests and
                Defendant Treasury’s Failure to Respond and Timely Comply

       27.      By letter dated January 13, 2006 plaintiff submitted Freedom of Information Act

(“FOIA”) requests to Treasury for records described as:

       “all reports and other documents filed by the following banks concerning both the
       numbered accounts, and any other accounts of PCLS that were held by them (“the
       PCLS accounts”): 1) First American Bank, N.A., Account Nos. X-XX4-498, X-
       XX5-308 and X-XX9-650; 2) First Union National Bank, N.A., 3) Wachovia
       Bank, N.A.”

       28.      On February 24, 2006 by form letter Treasury informed plaintiff the FOIA request

had been assigned the request number 2006-01-081 and that Treasury “cannot meet the normal

time limits”, but to “[b]e assured that your request will be answered as soon as possible”.

       29.      On January 17, 2008 by form letter Treasury informed plaintiff the FOIA request



	
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“has not yet been processed”, but if plaintiff had received a reply “please send a copy of the

response to our office”, and further asking “if at this time if you are still interested in pursuing

access to these records under FOIA.” Plaintiff replied that it was.

       30.     On April 30, 2008 by letter Treasury acknowledged receipt of letters inquiring as

to the status of the FOIA request and replied “[r]est assured that Departmental Offices is(sic)

doing their very best to keep up with their work flow and FOIA responses” and that “[y]our letter

has been forwarded to the Office of Foreign Assets Control for appropriate action.

       31.     No other response regarding request number 2006-01-081 has been received.

       32.     By letter dated Wednesday, December 19, 2007 plaintiff submitted Freedom of

Information Act (“FOIA”) requests to Treasury for records described as:

               (a)     All applications for license made by or on behalf of the PCLS, license

                       determinations regarding those applications, and any licenses issued

                       concerning blocked funds of the PCLS.

               (b)     Statements, bank ledgers, checks, or any other documents regarding any

                       blocked accounts in the name of the PCLS.

               (c)     Any documents referencing or concerning First American Bank, N.A.

                       account Nos. X-XX3-165, X-XX4-498, X-XX5-308, or X-XX9-650.

               (d)     Any documents referencing or concerning accounts of the PCLS at First

                       Union National Bank, N.A. or Wachovia Bank, N.A., the successor banks

                       by merger of First American Bank, N.A.

               (e)     Reports of blocked funds or applications for license referencing blocked

                       accounts of the PCLS.

               (f)     Applications for license regarding the transfer of blocked assets from First




	
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                       American Bank N.A., to any successor entity, including Wachovia Bank,

                       N.A. or First Union National Bank, N.A.

               (g)     Applications for license by entities holding blocked funds of the PCLS.

       33.     On January 30, 2008 by form letter Treasury informed plaintiff the FOIA request

had been assigned the request number 2008-01-038 and that Treasury “cannot meet the normal

time limits”, but to “[b]e assured that your request will be answered as soon as possible”.

       34.     On April 30, 2008 by letter Treasury acknowledged receipt of letters inquiring as

to the status of the FOIA request (and the 2006 request) and replied “[r]est assured that

Departmental Offices is(sic) doing their very best to keep up with their work flow and FOIA

responses” and that “[y]our letter has been forwarded to the Office of Foreign Assets Control for

appropriate action.

       35.     On July 7, 2008 Treasury contacted plaintiff by telephone and requested the scope

of the request be narrowed.

       36.     On July 31, 2008 by letter Treasury contacted plaintiff and suggested narrowing

the scope of the request.

       37.     On August 31, 2008 by letter plaintiff limited the scope of the FOIA request as

requested by Treasury after consultation between Treasury and counsel for plaintiff.

       38.     On September 16, 2008 by letter Treasury informed plaintiff it was

“administratively closing” the requests.

       39.     On November 10, 2008 one of the counsel for plaintiff spoke with OFAC

representatives and indicated the request could be simply complied with and limited to a search

of a particular set of books or journals that were precisely described by a formed OFAC official.

       40.     On November 24, 2008 by letter Treasury informed plaintiff the new requests




	
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were more burdensome than the prior requests and demanded over $500,000 to comply with the

request, an amount equal to the total amount of all fees collected by the entire Department of

Treasury for all FOIA requests during the entire fiscal year of 20081.

                         41.                         On December 22, 2008 by letter plaintiff again agreed to limit the scope of the

request and precisely described where the requested records could be found and described the

volume of the records as related by a former OFAC official.

                         42.                       On January 28, 2009 by form letter Treasury informed plaintiff the FOIA request

had been “closed” and a new FOIA request had been opened and assigned the request number

2009-01-048, and that “[e]very effort will be made in the Department Offices to provide you

with a timely response”.

                         43.                       To date, Treasury has not provided the records requested by plaintiff in its FOIA

request, not withstanding the FOIA’s requirement of an agency response within twenty (20)

working days.

                         44.                       The Treasury has wrongfully withheld the requested records from plaintiff.

                         45.                       Plaintiff has exhausted the applicable administrative remedies with respect to its

FOIA requests to Treasury, or is deemed to have exhausted such administrative remedies by the

failure of the agency to comply with the applicable time limits set forth in the FOIA.

                                                                                                                                        Requested Relief

                         WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays that this Court:

                         A.                        Order defendants to disclose the requested records in their entireties and make

copies available to plaintiff;

                                                      B.                                                     Provide for expeditious proceedings in this action;
	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  
1	
  See
    U.S. Department of Treasury Freedom of Information Act Annual Report to the Attorney
General for Fiscal year 2008.	
  

	
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       C.      Award plaintiff its costs and reasonable attorneys fees incurred in this action; and

       D.      Grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

                                                     Respectfully submitted,



                                                     By     /s/ Noah K. Wood
                                                     Noah K. Wood, Mo Bar No. 51249
                                                     WOOD LAW FIRM, LLC
                                                     1736 East Sunshine, Suite 517
                                                     Springfield, MO 65804
                                                     (417) 882-7100
                                                     Fax: (417) 882+6345
                                                     noah@woodlaw.com

                                                     Attorneys for Plaintiff




	
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