|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
June 14, 1999
Ms. Kathleen F. Watel
Dear Ms. Watel:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 125141.
The City of San Antonio (the "city") received a request for all dispatch tapes pertaining to a specific drowning accident. You claim that the submitted portions of the dispatch tapes are excepted from disclosure under section 552.103 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.103(a) excepts from disclosure information:
(1) relating to litigation of a civil or criminal nature or settlement negotiations, to which the state or a political subdivision is or may be a party or to which an officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision, as a consequence of the person's office or employment, is or may be a party; and
(2) that the attorney general or the attorney of the political subdivision has determined should be withheld from public inspection.
To secure the protection of section 552.103(a), a governmental body must demonstrate that the requested information "relates" to a pending or reasonably anticipated judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding. Open Records Decision No. 551 (1990).
In Open Records Decision No. 638 (1996), this office stated that a governmental body may demonstrate that it reasonably anticipates litigation if it receives a notice of claim letter and represents to this office that the letter is in compliance with the requirements of the Texas Tort Claims Act, Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code, ch. 101, or an applicable municipal ordinance or statute. You state that the city received a letter which constitutes notice to the city as required by Section 150 of the City Charter. We, therefore, conclude that litigation is reasonably anticipated and that the submitted information is related to the litigation for the purposes of section 552.103.
In reaching this conclusion, however, we assume that the opposing party to the anticipated litigation has not previously had access to the information at issue; absent special circumstances, once information has been obtained by all parties to the litigation, e.g., through discovery or otherwise, no section 552.103(a) interest exists with respect to that information. Open Records Decision Nos. 349 (1982), 320 (1982). We also note that the applicability of section 552.103(a) ends once the litigation has been concluded. Attorney General Opinion MW-575 (1982); Open Records Decision No. 350 (1982).
We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied on as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have any questions regarding this ruling, please contact our office.
June B. Harden
Ref. ID# 125141
Encl. Submitted tapes
cc: Mr. Thomas Hall
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US