Lawyers David Domina, Omaha, Nebraska, and Karen Budd-Falen, Cheyenne,
Wyoming, embarked on aggressive discovery in a nationwide class action
against the U.S. Forest Service. Domina Law Group and the Budd-Falen Law
Firm sued the government on behalf of all federal grazing lands lessees.
They contend the government violated privacy rights by disclosing to groups
hostile to the lessees their confidential, personal financial information.
This information included financial statements, banking relations, etc.
The data was incorrectly released in response to an antagonistic group’s
spam mailing of Freedom of Information Requests.
The suit contends the Freedom of Information Act does not authorize the
intentional disclosure of confidential, private financial information
about a government lessee.
The case is a rarity. Seldom are class actions certified against the United
States of America. Here, however, the ranchers won class certification
in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the case
was transferred there from Wyoming. Even after this achievement, settlement
terms have not been reached with the government. Discovery is now underway.
Personnel at every District office of the U.S. Forest Service that released
personnel financial data will be deposed.