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PublicSource v. Pennsylvania Department of Health

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  1. Freedom of Information

Case Number: 1021 C.D. 2020

Court: Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Clients: Nicole Brambila, PublicSource

Petition for Review Filed: Oct. 19, 2020

Background: In May 2020, Nicole Brambila, a reporter for the nonprofit news organization PublicSource, filed a Right to Know Law request seeking aggregated information about pneumonia and influenza deaths for a period of five years from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Upon receiving her Right to Know Law request, the health department provided Brambila with just three weeks of data. Brambila sought review of the health department’s decision in the Office of Open Records, the agency responsible for handling public records appeals. The OOR sided with the state health department.

On behalf of Brambila and PublicSource, Reporters Committee attorneys then filed an appeal in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

Update: On Nov. 9, 2021, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the OOR’s final determination in favor of the state health department.

Filings: 

2020-10-19: Petition for review

2021-03-15: Petitioners’ principal brief

2021-03-15: Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association amicus brief in support of petitioners

2021-04-19: Department of Health reply brief

2021-05-03: Reply brief of PublicSource and Nicole Brambila

2021-11-09: Memorandum opinion