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Illinois court deems plumbers' names, addresses public record

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         ILLINOIS         Freedom of Information         Jan 4, 2002    

Illinois court deems plumbers’ names, addresses public record

  • Appellate justices order state Department of Health to turn plumbers’ information over to union, rejecting claim that disclosure violates privacy.

The Illinois Department of Public Health must disclose the names and home addresses of licensed plumbers and apprentice plumbers in response to a state Freedom of Information Act request, a state appeals court in Chicago ruled Dec. 21.

The court rejected the department’s claim that the information was protected by a privacy exemption to the state FOI law.

Justice Margaret O’Mara Frossard affirmed a decision by the Cook County Circuit Court that the department must provide the addresses to the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local 130. Names and addresses constitute basic identification information, she wrote, and cannot be exempted.

Although the state law, like the federal FOI Act, allows the exemption of personal information that would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, the appellate court ruled that names and addresses of individuals do not constitute “personal information.” It quoted a 1996 Illinois Supreme Court decision that although names and addresses are “unquestionably personal in the sense that they are specific to particular persons,” the statutory exemption means “more than simply that.”

Frossard distinguished this ruling from another Illinois appellate court decision finding that names and addresses of scholarship winners could be denied because receipt of scholarship money is “personal” information, beyond mere identification.

(Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local 130 v. Dep’t of Health; requesters’ attorney: Julian Schreiber, Chicago) RD

© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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