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Readily Identifiable Records Must Be Produced

In the case of LeRussi v. Calcutta Volunteer Fire Dept., 2023-Ohio-626, a special master recommended that a fire department must be ordered to provide cancelled checks pursuant to the Public Records Act (R.C. 149.43) despite the fact that the requestor did not specifically identify the checks by name.

In this case, the requestor argued that the request for “line-item” accounting records was sufficiently specific without having to name the specific records the requestor wanted – i.e., cancelled checks. In response, the fire department argued that it does not have to provide records not specifically identified in the public record request. The special master agreed with the requestor.

In support of its decision in favor of the requestor, the special master explained that the Public Records Act requires the “production of readily identifiable records that the [fire department] understands contain the information sought, even if those records were not explicitly mentioned in the request” and “[a]lthough a requester has a duty to reasonably identify the records it seeks, the law does ‘not require perfection in public-records requests.’” 2023-Ohio-626 at ¶ 5.

To read the special master’s report, 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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