University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Trustees of Princeton University v. United States Department of Education ED-DC-0007
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-00485-TSC ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
On Mar. 17, 2017, the plaintiff, Princeton University, filed a "reverse Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)" lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and its sub-agency, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act; 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706; FOIA; 5 U.S.C. § 55 ... read more >
On Mar. 17, 2017, the plaintiff, Princeton University, filed a "reverse Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)" lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and its sub-agency, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act; 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706; FOIA; 5 U.S.C. § 552; the Trade Secrets Act; and 18 U.S.C. § 1905, in order to prevent the disclosure of certain commercially sensitive documents and information relating to the University's undergraduate admissions program submitted to the OCR in the course of an OCR compliance review.

The materials at issue were the subject of a pending FOIA request and accompanying lawsuit to compel disclosure, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Education.

The materials fell into two categories: documents and information about undergraduate applicants to the University, and documents and information about the University's proprietary admissions processes. The materials pertained to an OCR compliance review had begun in January 2008 after OCR received a complaint alleging that the plaintiff had discriminated against the complainant on the basis of race and national origin in the admissions process. OCR concluded its investigation in September 2015, finding no evidence that the plaintiff had discriminated against the complainant specifically, nor against Asian applicants generally.

The plaintiff maintained that the materials at issue were exempt from disclosure pursuant to a FOIA exemption that exempts from disclosure "trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential." 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(4). The plaintiff argued that disclosure of the materials would put it at a substantial competitive disadvantage to identify, evaluate, and enroll prospective students, while potentially also discouraging applicants from applying to the University in the future if they questioned the confidentiality of their application materials.

The plaintiff sought permanent injunctive and declaratory relief to set aside the Department of Education and OCR's final decision to disclose the documents and information as arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.

The case was assigned to District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan.

On March 30, 2017, Students for Fair Admissions filed a consent motion to intervene as a defendant in the present case and consolidate the case with Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Education. On May 9, 2017, the order was granted and the cases were consolidated.

On July 17, 2017, the defendants filed an unopposed motion to remand and stay. The motion was granted on a week later, on the condition that the parties submit a status report to the court by September 25, 2017, and every 30 days thereafter. On October 25, 2017, the Department of Education informed the court that it had received and was reviewing supplementary material that the plaintiff had submitted. On November 24, 2017, the Department provided an update stating that it planned to respond to the plaintiff on or before December 8, 2017, informing the school of whether the agency found the records exempt from production.

On December 8, 2017, the parties jointly stipulated to dismissal. Three days later, Judge Chutkan signed an order of dismissal, converting the administrative dismissal to a dismissal without prejudice.

The docket does not include any details about the conditions of the parties' joint stipulation to dismissal.

Elizabeth Greiter - 05/07/2018


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
General
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Education
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
Plaintiff Description The trustees of Princeton University, a private, non-profit educational institution.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filing Year 2017
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing ED-DC-0006 : Students for Fair Admissions v. U.S. Department of Education (D.D.C.)
Docket(s)
1:17-cv-485 (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
ED-DC-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Chutkan, Tanya Sue (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Harrison, Lindsay C (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0007-0001 | ED-DC-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Connolly, John Michael (Virginia)
ED-DC-0007-9000
Schaefer, Daniel Patrick (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0007-9000
Snell, Kevin Matthew (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0007-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -