In the case of State ex rel. Ware v. Parikh, Slip Opinion No. 2023-Ohio-2536, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the requestor was entitled to one instance of statutory damages when the requestor enclosed ten related record requests in one certified-mail envelope and sent the requests to the public office.
In this case, the requestor argued that the requestor made ten separate requests instead of a singular request when the requester enumerated each request and placed the requests in separate envelopes, even though the requester mailed the separate requests in a single certified-mail envelope. In response, the public office argued that the ten requests, although in separate envelopes, came in the same certified-mail envelope and were similar enough to constitute one record request of multiple records. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the public office.
In support of its lead decision in favor of the public office, the Ohio Supreme Court explained that the office had a statutory obligation to fulfil the public records request, and the damages are calculated based on the obligation not being fulfilled, not the number of requests. The Ohio Supreme Court further explained that the requests, although in separate envelopes, constituted essentially one request because the requested information was from the same office and dealt with similar information.
In support of its concurring in judgment only opinion, the Ohio Supreme Court explained that the test to determine the number of public record requests should be as simple as the number of transmissions that are sent without looking at the similarity between the records that are requested.
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.