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Four-Month Delay in Responding to Public Record Request May Not Be Unreasonable

In the case of State ex rel. Util. Supervisors Employees’ Assn. v. Cleveland, 2023-Ohio-463, an appellate court denied a union’s request to compel a city to fulfil two public records requests involving all agreements — proposed signed or unsigned, completed or failed — between the city and any contractors for water and sewer related work in the past five years, as well as all city job descriptions for positions identified in the current collective bargaining agreement between the city and another union from April 2019 to March 2022.

In this case, the union argued that the city failed to produce all requested records even after a four-month period. In response, the city argued that the city, in fact, produced 2,705 pages of records to the union within four months of the request and the four-month response time was reasonable considering the volume of information requested by the union and the necessary redactions of private information within the documents. The appellate court agreed with the city.

In support of its decision in favor of the city, the appellate court explained that “[b]ased on the limited arguments before this court, the city timely responded to the records requests at issue here. It took the city four months to respond and only after [the union] filed its mandamus action. However, given the limited argument, broad scope of the records request, and the voluminous records that were produced, we do not find that the city’s production of records was done in an unreasonable time.”  2023-Ohio-463 at ¶ 21.

WARNING: The outcome of this case may have been much different had the union responded to the motion for summary judgment filed by the city as “’[t]he Public Records Act “is construed liberally in favor of broad access, and any doubt is resolved in favor of disclosure of public records.”’” 2023-Ohio-463 at ¶ 7.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.


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