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February 24, 2000

Ms. Sara Shiplet Waitt
Senior Associate Commissioner
Legal and Compliance Division
Texas Department of Insurance
Post Office Box 149104
Austin, Texas 78714-9104

OR2000-0682

Dear Ms. Waitt:

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# 132690.

The Texas Department of Insurance (the "department") received a written request for certain records pertaining to States Self Insurers Risk Retention Group, Inc. ("States"). You state that some of the requested information has been released to the requestor. You do not contend that the remaining requested information is excepted from required public disclosure, but rather have requested a decision from this office pursuant to section 552.305 of the Government Code as to whether the remaining information must be released.

In accordance with section 552.305, you have notified States of the current r request for their records and invited them to submit arguments to this office as to why the information at issue should not be released. States timely responded to your notice and contends to this office that the information at issue is excepted from required public disclosure pursuant to section 552.110 of the Government Code. Section 552.110 excepts from public disclosure

(a) [a] trade secret obtained from a person and privileged and confidential by statute or judicial decision . . . [and]

(b) [c]ommercial or financial information for which it is demonstrated based on specific factual evidence that disclosure would cause substantial competitive harm to the person from whom the information was obtained.

Although States contends that section 552.110 protects the information at issue, it has not provided this office with any arguments to support its contention. Consequently, this office has no basis on which to conclude that any of the information at issue falls within the protection of section 552.110. We conclude, therefore, that the department must release the requested information in its entirety.

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,

Rose-Michel Munguía
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

RMM/RWP/jc

Ref.: ID# 132690

cc: Mr. Al Rodriguez
Rodriguez Consulting, Inc.
2900 Roundrock Trail
Plano, Texas 75075-2030
(w/o enclosures)

Mr. Robert O. McCloud, Jr.
Carter & Ansley
One Ninety One Peachtree Tower
191 Peachtree Street, Suite 1000
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-1747
(w/o enclosures)

Mr. Mark Tansey
President
States Self Insurers Risk Retention Group, Inc.
920 2nd Avenue south, Suite 700
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402-4023
(w/o enclosures)

Ms. Ann Bright
Section Chief
Legal and Compliance
Texas Department of Insurance
P.O. Box 149104
Austin, Texas 78714-9104
(w/o enclosures)


 

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