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PLN Awarded $48,709 In Attorney Fees After Successful FOIA Suit Against BOP

In June, 2006, Prison Legal News won the right to gain media investigative access to federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) records regarding lawsuits by prisoners, employees, contractors and visitors without payment of search and copying fees, pursuant to PLN's request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. § 552). (See: PLN, September, 2006). In this now published case (Prison Legal News v. Lappin, 436 F.Supp.2d 17 (2006)), the court granted PLN's motion for summary judgment while denying the BOP's motion. The court held that because PLN was a recognized widely distributed journal and that the requested information would be of public interest, PLN qualified for a fee exemption (here, worth an estimated $6,944). As a result, PLN will not be encumbered for searching and copying these BOP files.

On September 13, 2006, the U.S. District Court (D.D.C.) signed a stipulation and order directing the BOP to pay PLN's attorney fees and costs of $48,708.72, which were not contested or appealed. PLN was ably represented by Washington, DC attorney Edward J. Elder of Klimaski & Associates, PC. PLN does not receive any portion of the attorney fees, rather those go to counsel who represent us. As this issue goes to press, the Bureau of Prisons has yet to actually produce any documents. See: Prison Legal News v. Lappin, USDC, D DC, Case No. 05-1812 (RBW).

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Related legal case

Prison Legal News v. Lappin

The unpublished fee ruling is available in the briefbank.