Government Caves In FOIA Litigation and Grants Fee Waiver to Center for Auto Safety

Today, after the Department of Treasury completely capitulated on the issue, the court approved a voluntary stipulation that the government will grant the Center for Auto Safety a complete waiver of all fees associated with its request for electronic emails that will shed light on why the government allowed the auto industry to escape all liability for defective cars after the industry bailout in 2009. We had filed suit on behalf of the Center – the nation’s oldest and most prominent auto safety organization – after the Department tried to charge exorbitant fees in connection with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for these records.

The Center, the driving force behind the widespread adoption of lemon laws and major recalls of defective cars, seeks government email correspondence that would shed light on the government-led, taxpayer-financed restructuring of the two automotive giants, Chrysler and GM, which left personal injury victims without any recourse for injuries resulting from defective automobiles against the "New Chrysler" and "New GM." Rather than simply providing the Center with a disc containing the electronic documents or granting the Center a "public interest" waiver of duplication fees as provided by FOIA, the government denied access to the Center by assessing photocopying fees in excess of $33,000 for paper copies of the records. We filed a brief in October that challenged the government's position as creating an unlawful barrier to access under FOIA.

Today’s court order approves a voluntary stipulation between the parties that provides that the government has waived all fees in connection with the request and sets a schedule for the production of records.