Covid-19 Litigation Tracker

Learn more about the records being sought by American Oversight and other organizations. Below is a comprehensive list of coronavirus-related lawsuits.

Browse by month

July 2020

American Oversight v. Treasury
Open Society Justice Initiative v. Defense Dept.
Center for Biological Diversity v. CEQ
Project on Government Oversight v. SBA

June 2020

Tobias v. Interior Dept.
American Oversight v. USPS
Al Otro Lado v. DHS
ABC v. Treasury
American Oversight v. DHS
American Oversight v. DHS, ICE
Center for Public Integrity v. SBA

May 2020

American Oversight v. Treasury
American Immigration Council v. DHS
Washington Post Co. v. SBA
New York Times Co. v. HHS
NPR v. HHS
NPR v. TSA
American Oversight v. HHS, CDC
Buzzfeed v. State Dept.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Treasury
Leopold v. FEC
American Oversight v. DHS, ICE, DOJ, FBP
ABC v. HHS
ProPublica v. HHS

April 2020

Knight First Amendment Institute v. CDC
American Oversight v. HHS, FDA
Lafayette Media v. Defense Dept.
American Oversight v. HHS, FDA, NIAID, CMS
American Oversight v. HHS, FDA
Washington Post Co. v. State Dept.

March 2020

Leopold v. CDC

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Litigation Details

Leopold v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-00722
Date filed: 3/13/20
Plaintiffs: Jason Leopold, Buzzfeed
Defendants: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health
Judge: Colleen Kollar-Kotelly
Information sought:
CDC: All emails sent and received from CDC director mentioning or referring to coronavirus; all internal CDC studies on the coronavirus; all policy and legal guidance provided to CDC and policy guidance CDC has provided to its staff on the coronavirus; any and all internal memos and letters mentioning or referring to the coronavirus; any and all draft and final talking points on the coronavirus.
FEMA: Any and all contingency plans for a coronavirus outbreak in possession by FEMA; any and all records mentioning or referring to said FEMA contingency plan document; any and all records, including but not limited to emails, letters, memos, in which FEMA officials discuss any contingency plans in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.
Notes/Productions scheduled:
CDC: End of July, 500 pages; end of August, another 500 pages; end of September, remaining pages.
HHS: End of August, remaining pages excluding attachments.
DHS: Starting on or before July 31, a minimum of 300 pages per month.

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Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
Docket number: 1:20-cv-02761
Date filed: 4/2/20
Plaintiffs: Knight Institute
Defendants: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Judge: Analisa Torres
Information sought: Records concerning White House and CDC policies restricting CDC employees’ ability to speak to the press and the public about the coronavirus, including: records relating to policies or procedures governing public communications by CDC employees or contractors about the coronavirus; any records relating to policies or procedures for the coordination of communications strategy between the CDC (or its employees) and the Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice President Pence; emails sent by CDC Public Affairs Officer Jeffrey Lancashire on or around August 31, 2017, that contain instructions for employees regarding communications with members of the news media or the public; the CDC’s policies on employee communications with news media and the public in effect from January 2017 to present; and any directives or guidance related to the policies on employee communications with news media and the public in effect from January 2017 to the present.

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American Oversight v. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-947
Date filed: 4/10/20
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration
Judge: Trevor N. McFadden
Information sought: Directives or guidance regarding decisions about testing for coronavirus, including decisions concerning whether to use the World Health Organization’s test, whether to share data on the status of test kits nationwide, where and when to send tests to health-care providers, and who qualifies for testing.

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Lafayette Media v. Department of Defense 

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-00984
Date filed: 4/15/20
Plaintiffs: Lafayette Media Group (for Task & Purpose), Paul Szoldra
Defendants: U.S. Department of Defense
Judge: Carl J. Nichols
Information sought: All emails sent to or from U.S. Navy Capt. Brett E. Crozier between March 25 and April 2, 2020; all communications to or from Crozier regarding the permissibility of making a port call in Vietnam on March 5, 2020; all communications to or from Crozier reflecting guidance on how to manage the spread of Covid-19, resources and facilities that could be made available to treat infected personnel, and determinations regarding the extent to which Crozier could make emergency ports of call at U.S. government locations to offload infected personnel; any communications from White House personnel (including Trump) regarding potential disciplinary action for Crozier. 

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American Oversight v. Department of Health and Human Services, et al.

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-1063
Date filed: 4/23/20
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Judge: Amit P. Mehta
Information sought: Records related to efforts to control the government’s public communications about the coronavirus.

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American Oversight v. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-1064
Date filed: 4/23/20
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration
Judge: James E. Boasberg
Information sought: Emails sent by senior officials related to testing.

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Washington Post Company v. U.S. Department of State

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01082
Date filed: 4/24/20
Plaintiffs: Washington Post Co.
Defendant: U.S. Department of State
Judge: James E. Boasberg
Information sought: The Washington Post seeks two diplomatic cables sent within the State Department by U.S. diplomats in China warning of safety issues after visiting the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Notes/Productions scheduled: Production scheduled by July 23, 2020.

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American Oversight v. Department of Treasury, et al.

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-1169
Date filed: 5/5/20
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: Department of Treasury, Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Judge: Emmet G. Sullivan
Information sought: Senior officials’ sent email communications, starting from Jan. 15, 2020, containing terms related to coronavirus.

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American Immigration Council v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01196-T
Date filed: 5/7/20
Plaintiffs: American Immigration Council
Defendants: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Judge: Thomas F. Hogan
Information sought: Information concerning how officials dealt with coronavirus outbreaks in immigration detention centers, including: protocols and guidance regarding medical screening, sanitization of facilities, detained individuals’ ability to communicate with family members and counsel, plans for separately housing individuals who are at risk, and plans to release individuals, including the use of alternatives to detention; data, including the numbers of detained individuals who have been tested for the Covid-19 virus, the number that have tested positive, the number that have been placed in solitary confinement, and the number that have been transferred to a hospital or urgent care facility.
Notes/Productions scheduled: The court ordered at least 400 pages of responsive records and non-exempt documents produced by July 31, with all remaining responsive/non-exempt documents produced by August 31.

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Washington Post Company v. U.S. Small Business Administration

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01240
Date filed: 5/12/20
Plaintiffs: The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, ProPublica, The New York Times, ABC News, CNN, NBC, Reveal (Center for Investigative Reporting), American City Business Journals, Associated Press
Defendants: Small Business Administration
Judge: James A. Boasberg
Information sought: News organizations sued the Small Business Administration for records showing which companies received more than $700 billion in taxpayer-backed small-business loans, including records that would identify and provide basic information about the businesses approved for public assistance under the SBA’s Covid-related programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program; and “confidential data” on PPP that had been provided to economics professors for an NBER working paper.
Notes/Productions scheduled: July 13

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New York Times Co. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
Docket number: 1:20-cv-03704
Date filed: 5/13/20
Plaintiffs: The New York Times
Defendants: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Judge: Jed S. Rakoff
Information sought: Demographic data regarding positive Covid-19 cases to better understand how the virus disproportionately affects African-Americans and those living in low-income and minority communities. The Times requested copies of all Human Infection with 2019 Novel Coronavirus Person Under Investigation (PUI) and Case Report Forms submitted to HHS or any of its components, including the CDC.

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NPR v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket Number: 1:20-cv-01289
Date filed: 5/15/20
Plaintiffs: National Public Radio and Tim Mak
Defendants: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Judge: Ketanji Brown Jackson
Information Sought: Communications of high-ranking HHS officials, including Alex Azar, William Brady, Nick Uehlecke, Bonny Harbinger, Danielle Steele, Beth Nelson, and Michael Schmoyer from the earliest stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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NPR v. U.S. Transportation Security Administration  

Court: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Docket Number: 1:20-cv-00556
Date filed: 5/15/20
Plaintiffs: National Public Radio and Tim Mak
Defendants: U.S. Transportation Security Administration
Judge: Claude M. Hilton
Information Sought: Communications of high-ranking TSA officials from the earliest stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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American Oversight v. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-1296
Date filed: 5/15/20
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Judge: Amit P. Mehta
Information sought: Communications between the White House and the CDC; documents regarding virus testing; coronavirus-related directives.

 

Buzzfeed v. U.S. Department of State

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01319
Date filed: 5/18/20
Plaintiffs: Buzzfeed
Defendants: U.S. Department of State
Judge: Timothy J. Kelly
Information sought: All communication to and from Deborah L. Birx M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator at the U.S. State Department, regarding modeling of pandemic outbreak scenarios, including attachments, sent by Marc Lipsitch of Harvard from March 23 to March 27, 2020.

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Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Department of Treasury

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01322
Date filed: 5/19/20
Plaintiffs: Center for Biological Diversity
Defendants: U.S. Department of Treasury
Judge: Rudolph Contreras
Information sought: Copies of applications from fossil fuel companies, including those that work in oil, natural gas or coal, and/or mining companies that have requested assistance pursuant to Title IV (Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the United States Economy) of the CARES Act.

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Leopold v. Federal Election Commission

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01331
Date filed: 5/19/20
Plaintiffs: Jason Leopold, Buzzfeed
Defendants: Federal Election Commission, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Judge: Ketanji Brown Jackson
Information sought:
FEC: Contingency plans, studies, reports, memos, directives mentioning or referring to the coronavirus; all emails sent or received by FEC commissioners, acting general counsel, staff director and chief information officer mentioning or referring to the coronavirus; a copy of the most recent pandemic plans for any other virus/disease; all documents mentioning or referring to coronavirus and the 2020 U.S. presidential election and contingency plans.
TSA: Emails, memos, letters, reports, studies sent/received mentioning or related to the coronavirus from various administrators; a copy of TSA’s most recent pandemic plan and any contingency plans mentioning or referring to coronavirus; all policy and legal guidance provided to TSA or by TSA to its staff on the coronavirus; final talking points on the coronavirus; emails, memos, letters, talking points mentioning or referring to President Trump and “Chinese Virus”; records mentioning or referring to the classification of discussions with the White House officials and officials in the Executive Office of the President and relating or referring to the coronavirus.
USAID: All internal USAID reports, studies, memos, contingency plans on the coronavirus; any and all draft and final talking points on the coronavirus; records mentioning or referring to pharmaceuticals or other means to treat the Covid-19; any and all records mentioning or referring to the classification of discussions with officials in the White House or the Executive Office of the President and relating or referring to coronavirus; any and all records exchanged with the White House and the EOP mentioning or referring to the coronavirus; any and all emails sent or received by the head of USAID and immediate aides and deputies mentioning or referring to coronavirus.
ODNI: Copies of a report and any intelligence assessment, product, or talking points memorialized in a document, email, memo, letter, directive, between Nov. 1, 2019 and Nov. 30, 2019, mentioning or referring to the coronavirus prepared by or for the National Center for Medical Intelligence; emails, memos, letters, talking points, mentioning or referring to an April 8, ABC News report headlined “Intelligence Report Warned of Coronavirus Crisis as Early as November: Sources” and an April 9 CNN report headlined “U.S. Intelligence Agencies Started Tracking Coronavirus Outbreak in China as Early as November”; and any emails, memos, letters, talking points that led ODNI to issue a statement and a tweet refuting the news reports.

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American Oversight v. Department of Homeland Security, et al. 

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-1367
Date filed: 5/21/20
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons
Judge: Royce C. Lamberth
Information sought: Directives, risk assessments, data, and related communications regarding the outbreak of coronavirus in prisons and other federal facilities.

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ABC v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01408
Date filed: 5/27/20
Plaintiffs: ABC, Benjamin Gittleson
Defendants: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Judge: Beryl A. Howell
Information sought: Copies of all email communications concerning the change of text on the webpage for the Strategic National Stockpile, part of HHS’s Public Health Emergency website, which took place on April 3, 2020, including but not limited to communication between senior HHS officials, officials overseeing the webpage, and White House officials.

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ProPublica v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
Docket number: 1:20-cv-4092
Date filed: 5/28/20
Plaintiffs: ProPublica
Defendants: U.S. Department Health and Human Services
Judge: Lorna G. Schofield
Information sought: ProPublica seeks information related to the Strategic National Stockpile, which is overseen by HHS, including memos from officials overseeing the stockpile regarding the distribution of materials, requests from the stockpile by states and territories, and calendars and call logs for senior officials within HHS.

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Tobias v. U.S. Department of the Interior

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01444
Date filed: 6/1/20
Plaintiffs: Jimmy Tobias (reporter)
Defendants: U.S. Department of the Interior
Judge: Amy Berman Jackson
Information sought: Records relating to policies or procedures governing public communications by Interior Department employees or contractors about the coronavirus; records relating to policies or procedures for the coordination of communications strategy between the Interior Department (or its employees) and the Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice President Pence; records relating to the Interior Department’s decision to waive entrance fees at national parks due to the coronavirus (all since Jan. 1, 2020); and communications from certain Interior officials (including Secretary Bernhardt and others) relating to coronavirus — including any plans, talking points, memos, guidances or other documents related to any proposal to reduce royalty rates for fossil fuel companies operating on public lands since Feb. 1, 2020.

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American Oversight v. U.S. Postal Service

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-1535
Date filed: 6/11/20
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: U.S. Postal Service
Judge: Timothy J. Kelly
Information sought: White House or agency directives, guidance, and communications concerning vote-by-mail operations and USPS’s role in delivering ballots for primary or general elections this year; records regarding the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on USPS’s ability to perform mail delivery, including legal analyses about federal emergency loans granted to the agency.

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Al Otro Lado v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Court: U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
Docket Number: 2:20-cv-05191
Date filed: 6/11/20
Plaintiffs:  Al Otro Lado and the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School
Defendants: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Judge: Otis D. Wright II
Information Sought: Records relating to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on immigrants in custody, including those regarding the Covid-19 outbreak at the Adelanto Detention Center, the Otay Mesa Detention Center, and all land ports of entry and Border Patrol stations in California.

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American Broadcasting Companies v. U.S. Department of the Treasury

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01568
Date filed: 6/15/20
Plaintiffs: ABC News, Benjamin Gittleson
Defendants: U.S. Department of the Treasury
Judge: Carl J. Nichols
Information sought: ABC seeks all records regarding the decision to add President Trump’s signature to the Economic Impact Payment checks disseminated to Americans as part of federal government relief efforts to blunt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Records requested include all records regarding that decision, including but not limited to communications between Treasury Department officials, Internal Revenue Service officials, and White House officials.

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American Oversight v. Department of Homeland Security, et al.

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-1596
Date filed: 6/17/20
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation
Judge: Timothy J. Kelly
Information sought: Nondisclosure agreements and email communications of private-sector volunteers who worked on federal supply chain efforts; communications by DHS, FEMA, and Defense leadership about private-sector volunteers; communications, including text messages, between DHS, FEMA, Defense, and DFC senior leadership and Kushner.

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American Oversight v. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-1610
Date filed: June 18, 2020
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Judge: James E. Boasberg
Information sought: Formal written or emergency grievances filed at six ICE facilities since March 1, as well as any documents containing final adjudications. The facilities in question are California’s Otay Mesa Detention Center, New York’s Buffalo Federal Detention Facility, Louisiana’s Alexandria Staging Facility, Georgia’s Stewart Detention Center, New Jersey’s Elizabeth Contract Detention Center, and Florida’s Krome Service Processing Center.

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Center for Public Integrity v. U.S. Small Business Administration

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01614
Date filed: 6/19/20
Plaintiffs: Center for Public Integrity
Defendants: Small Business Administration
Judge: James E. Boasberg
Information sought: CPI seeks information on the recipients of more than $700 billion intended for small businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, including communications between Administrator Jovita Carranza and her staff on the programs, and between her, her staff and Congress/staff, third party lenders, and borrowers.

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American Oversight v. Treasury

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-1788
Date filed: 7/1/20
Plaintiffs: American Oversight
Defendants: Treasury
Judge: Reggie B. Walton
Information sought: Documents related to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s and other senior officials’ role in shaping the federal government’s response to the coronavirus, especially concerning the coronavirus stimulus package, including: calendars, external emails for the first three months of the year, communications with Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump, and communications about specific provisions of legislation.

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Open Society Justice Initiative v. Department of Defense

Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
Docket number: 1:20-cv-05096
Date filed: 7/2/20
Plaintiffs: Open Society Justice Initiative
Defendants: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency
Judge: Jesse M. Furman
Information sought: Various records regarding the timing and substance of the Executive Branch’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Center for Biological Diversity v. Council on Environmental Quality

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01851
Date filed: 7/9/20
Plaintiffs: Center for Biological Diversity
Defendants: Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Judge: Dabney L. Friedrich
Information sought: Public records showing how federal agencies are implementing President Trump’s order to waive environmental laws to fast-track oil and gas drilling, fossil fuel pipelines and other projects across the country, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Project on Government Oversight v. Small Business Administration

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Docket number: 1:20-cv-01912
Date filed: 7/15/20
Plaintiffs: Project on Government Oversight (POGO)
Defendants: U.S. Small Business Administration
Judge: Christopher R. Cooper
Information sought: POGO seeks additional data regarding the funds released in the CARES Act as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including recipient of funds, specific amount of each loan, total subsidy loan costs, and additional information regarding loan recipients including parent companies, executive compensation, etc.

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