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Discovery Begins In Unique Action Against U.S. Forest Service


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.

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