National Senior Citizens Law Center v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

No. 1:04CV00226 (D.D.C.), filed Feb. 12, 2004

Last Update: July 15, 2004

Issue: Whether HHS’ failure to respond to a request for documents relevant to the Secretary’s new policy and regulation on feeding assistants in nursing homes (see 68 Fed. Reg. 55528 (Oct. 27, 2003)) violates the Freedom of Information Act.

Relief Sought:  Declare the refusal to produce the requested documents unlawful and order them produced.

Status: HHS answered the complaint on March 22, 2004.  The Secretary ultimately produced some documents, but withheld many others claiming the deliberative process and attorney-client privileges.  With the filing of his summary judgment motion, he provided a “Vaughn Index” to explain generally the nature of the withheld documents.  After plaintiffs determined that there were no other pursuable documents, they agreed to dismiss the complaint, and it was dismissed on July 12, 2004.