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January 27, 2000

Mr. Ed C. Jones
County Attorney
Angelina County
Post Office Box 1845
Lufkin, Texas 75902-1845

OR2000-0274

Dear Mr. Jones:

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# 131607.

Angelina County (the "county") received a written request for "a list of all claims, including the names of the complainants, the nature of the claims and the final resolution of each of the claims against the county's insurance policy for appointed and elected officials." You state that although the county does not possess the requested information in the form of a list, the county nevertheless has released to the requestor "all pleadings and papers filed in Court and/or before the EEOC involving Commercial Underwriters Insurance Company coverage." You contend that certain other submitted documents represent privileged attorney-client communications that are excepted from required public disclosure pursuant to section 552.107(1) of the Government Code.

You explain that the documents that the county has released to the requestor "are responsive enough to the type of information requested . . . so that [the requestor] can make his own list." Assuming that your representation is correct, we conclude that the county has substantially complied with the records request. See Open Records Decision No. 445 (1986) (Public Information Act does not require governmental body to prepare new information in response to request). Having reviewed the documents you submitted, we further conclude that those documents fall outside the ambit of the request. Accordingly, we do not address your claim under section 552.107.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

James W. Morris, III
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JWM/RWP/ch

Ref.: ID# 131607

cc: Mr. Jerry Jordan
Lufkin Daily News
Post Office Box 1089
Lufkin, Texas 75902-1089
(w/o enclosures)


 

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