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1. Who may sue?

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  • Alaska

    Anyone who is denied access to records and whose appeal is denied may sue. AS 40.25.124; 2 AAC 96.350. A court must entertain a suit by a person who has not exhausted the "administrative remedies." In Carter v. APEA, the Supreme Court rejected the University's argument that the APEA should have exhausted procedures for obtaining information set by the Labor Relations Agency before suing. "The doctrine is not applicable where the remedy sought is judicial rather than administrative. . . . Resolution of a question of statutory interpretation is judicial rather than administrative." 663 P.2d at 922-923, n. 19. The 1990 revisions of the Public Records Act expressly state that injunctive relief seeking access to public records can be sought without exhausting administrative remedies. AS 40.25.125.

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  • Arizona

    “Any person who has requested to examine or copy public records pursuant to this article, and who has been denied access to or the right to copy such records, may appeal the denial through a special action in the superior court, pursuant to the rules of procedure for special actions against the officer or public body.”  A.R.S. § 39-121.02(A).

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  • Arkansas

    “Any citizen denied the rights granted him by [the FOIA] may appeal immediately from the denial.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-107(a). The Attorney General, acting in his official capacity, is a “citizen” for purposes of this provision. Bryant v. Weiss, 335 Ark. 534, 983 S.W.2d 902 (1998). Consequently, the Attorney General can request the same records that have been sought unsuccessfully by someone else and, upon denial of that request, bring an action under the FOIA to force disclosure.

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  • California

    "Any person may institute proceedings for injunctive or declarative relief or writ of mandate in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce his or her right to inspect or to receive a copy of any public record or class of public records under this chapter." Cal. Gov't Code § 6258. The California Supreme Court has held that the plain meaning of this provision "contemplates a declaratory relief proceeding commenced only by an individual or entity seeking disclosure of public records, and not by the public agency from which disclosure is sought." Filarsky v. Superior Court, 28 Cal. 4th 419, 426, 121 Cal. Rptr. 2d 844, 49 P.3d 194 (2002) (city may not initiate ordinary declaratory relief action to determine its obligation to disclose records to a member of the public as CPRA provides exclusive means for litigating question of whether records must be disclosed).

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  • Colorado

    Any person whose request for access to or inspection of public records has been denied may seek an order directing the custodian to show why inspection should not be permitted. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-204(5).

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  • Connecticut

    In Rose v. FOIC, 221 Conn. 217, 602 A.2d 1019 (1992), the Supreme Court held that the phrase "any party aggrieved" in Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-206(d) includes anyone who can show that he or she is aggrieved by an FOIC decision, and does not require that the person show that at the FOIC he or she was actually granted party status or was entitled as of right to be made a party. The person need merely show a specific, personal and legal interest in the subject matter of the FOIC decision which was specially and injuriously affected by that decision. Id. at 230. See also Kelly v. FOIC, 221 Conn. 300, 603 A.2d 1131 (1992) (aggrievement not restricted to persons to whom FOIC order is directed). In Bd. of Pardons v. FOIC, 210 Conn. 646, 556 A.2d 1020 (1989), the Supreme Court held the Board of Pardons to be "aggrieved" for appeal-standing purposes by an FOIC order requiring it to conduct its deliberations in the future in public because since Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-240(b) made noncompliance with an FOIC order a Class B misdemeanor, there existed "a genuine likelihood of criminal liability or civil incarceration" sufficient to confer standing and providing the individual members of the board with "a specific and personal" interest in the validity of the order. In State Library v. FOIC, 240 Conn. 824, 694 A.2d 1235 (1997), the Supreme Court held that a plaintiff may prove aggrievement without an evidentiary hearing in the trial court by relying on facts established in the record as a whole, including the administrative record.

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  • Delaware

    Any citizen, 29 Del. C. § 10005(b), or the Attorney General, 29 Del. C. § 10005(e).

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  • District of Columbia

    Other than with respect to documents in the possession of the D.C. Council, any individual may commence court proceedings to challenge the withholding of documents if: (a) no response is made within the statutory time period following the initial request; (b) the Mayor denies an appeal; (c) the Mayor fails to act on an appeal within the statutory time period; or (d) an agency has failed to release documents, even though the Mayor has authorized the documents to be released. D.C. Code Ann. § 2-537(a)(1), (2).

    Any person denied the right to inspect a public record in the possession of the D.C. Council may initiate court proceedings to challenge the withholding. D.C. Code Ann. § 2-537(a-1).

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  • Georgia

    Any person, firm, corporation or other entity may sue to enforce compliance, O.C.G.A. § 50-18-73(a), but only with respect to requests made in writing, § 50-18-71(b)(3).

    The Attorney General also has specific statutory authority to bring actions to enforce compliance with the Act and to seek either civil or criminal penalties or both.  § 50-18-73(a).

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  • Hawaii

    The UIPA provides that any person (including corporations) aggrieved by a denial of access to a government record may bring an action in the state circuit court against the agency to compel disclosure. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-15. A "person" includes an individual, corporation, government, or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association or any other legal entity. Id. § 92F-3. The court shall hear the matter de novo and may review the documents in question in camera if necessary. Id. § 92F-15(b).

    A person filing an action in state circuit court must notify the OIP in writing at the time of filing to allow the OIP the opportunity to intervene. Id. § 92F-15.3 (Supp. 1999).

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  • Idaho

    The “sole remedy” for a “person aggrieved” by the denial of a request for inspection is to institute proceedings in the district court of the county where the records are located. Idaho Code § 74-115(1). The statute is not specific as to who is considered aggrieved by such a denial but unquestionably the person requesting the record may initiate a Court action to protest the denial. It is not clear whether a person who did not actually make the request but was aggrieved as a result of the denial requested by another person, would be able to seek redress.

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  • Illinois

    Any person denied access to inspect or copy any public record by a public body may file a suit for injunctive or declaratory relief.  See 5 ILCS 140/11(a).  A public body may file suit to initiate an administrative review of a binding opinion of the Attorney General.  See 5 ILCS 140/11.5.

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  • Indiana

    Any person or organization who has been denied the right to inspect or copy a public record by a public agency may file an action in the circuit or superior court of the county in which the denial occurred. Ind. Code § 5-14-3-9(e).

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  • Iowa

    "Any aggrieved person, any taxpayer to or citizen of the state of Iowa, or the attorney general or any county attorney may seek judicial enforcement." Iowa Code § 22.10(1).

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  • Kansas

    Any person aggrieved by a violation. K.S.A. 45-222(a). This includes the Attorney General and county and district attorneys.

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  • Kentucky

    A requester may file an original action in Circuit Court to enforce the Open Records Act and is not required to seek the Attorney General's review before doing so. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.882(2).

    The parties to an Open Records Act appeal or original action are typically only the requester and the public agency.  The Attorney General must be notified of original actions and appeals of Attorney General decisions, but may not be named as a party. See Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.880(3).

    In Beckham v. Board of Educ. of Jefferson County, 873 S.W.2d 575 (Ky. 1994), the Court permitted teachers to intervene in an Open Records Act lawsuit brought by a newspaper against a board of education. The records which the newspaper sought included disciplinary actions and grievances against the teachers. The court literally interpreted Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.882(1), which empowers Circuit Courts to enforce the Open Records Act “by injunction or other appropriate order on application of any person.” 873 S.W.2d at 578. In Lawson v. Office of the AG, 415 S.W.3d 59 (Ky. 2013), the Court held that a person’s standing to oppose a public agency’s disclosure of public records is limited to the disclosure exemptions that are designed to protect the person’s individual interests. In that case, the Court held the individual could assert his personal privacy interests under Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.878(1)(a) but lacked standing to assert that the law enforcement exemption, Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.878(1)(h), applied because it was designed to protect the interests of law enforcement agencies and not individuals.

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  • Louisiana

    "Any person who has been denied the right to inspect or copy a record. . . ." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:35A.

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  • Maine

    Any person "aggrieved by a refusal or denial to inspect or copy a record” or failure of an agency or official to comply with the Act may appeal the refusal, denial or failure to comply to Superior Court.  1 M.R.S.A. § 409(1).

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  • Maryland

    The person or governmental unit denied access to a public record may file a complaint with the circuit court for the county where the complainant resides or has a principal place of business or where the public record is located. § 4-362(a); Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Abell, 294 Md. 680, 452 A.2d 656 (1982). Blythe v. State, 161 Md. App. 492, 505, 870 A.2d 1246, 1253, cert. granted, 388 Md. 97, 879 A.2d 42 (2005).

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  • Michigan

    Any person whose FOIA request has been denied in whole or in part may commence an action in circuit court under Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.240.

    Several items under Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.241 must be published and made available to the public even when not specifically requested. A person may commence an action in the court of claims to compel a state agency to comply with Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.241. Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.241(5).

    A person seeking to enjoin rather than compel disclosure of public records may file a "reverse FOIA" action, but the FOIA analysis applies in those cases and a "reverse FOIA" plaintiff may not have standing to raise certain exemptions. Bradley, supra, 455 Mich. 285.  A plaintiff’s right to prohibit disclosure must have a basis independent of FOIA.  Tobin v. Michigan Civil Service, 416 Mich. 661, 331 N.W. 2d 184 (1980).

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  • Montana

    Any "person" has standing to sue in district court to obtain relief under the constitution and Public Records Act, Mont. Const., Art. II, § 9.

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  • Nebraska

    "Any person" denied rights granted by the public records law may seek a writ of mandamus, compelling disclosure of the record. Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-712.03(1). In addition, under §84-712.03(2), if the attorney general determines that withheld records should be made public, he must demand that the custodian disclose the records. If the custodian does not comply with the attorney general's direction, the attorney general must bring suit in the name of the state. The requester has an absolute right to intervene in any suit brought by the attorney general. Id.

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  • Nevada

    Any requester of records may apply to the district court for an order permitting inspection or copying or for an order requiring the governmental entity to provide a copy to the requester. NRS 239.011(1).

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  • New Hampshire

    "Any person aggrieved by a violation of this chapter" may sue. RSA 91-A:7

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  • New Jersey

    Any "citizen" of New Jersey who has been denied the right to inspect, copy, or obtain a copy of public record may bring an action to enforce the rights granted under OPRA or the common law. Irval Realty Inc. v. Board of Public Utility Comm'rs, supra. "Citizen" includes newspapers published or circulated in New Jersey and any private commercial enterprise, even if motivated solely by "private pecuniary gain." Techniscan Corp. v. Passaic Valley Water Comm’n, supra.

    Although OPRA expressly provides that “government records shall be readily accessible…by citizens of this State” (N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1), the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has advised of its position that OPRA does not prohibit access by residents of other States.

    In the Matter of the New Jersey Firemen’s Association Obligation to Provide Relief Applications Under the Open Public Records Act, 230 N.J. 258 (2017) - involved the filing by the Association of a declaratory judgment action in response to an OPRA request so as to obtain a judicial determination of its responsibilities under OPRA.  The Court held that the declaratory judgment action was improper because at the time it was filed the Association had already made a determination of its legal obligation with respect to the requested records and denied access to same, thereby extinguishing the controversy between the parties.  The Supreme Court further held that once the Association denied access to the requested records, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-6 authorized only Carter to seek judicial review of that decision. The Supreme Court expressly left open the question of “whether a public entity may file a pre-denial declaratory judgment action when confronted with an unsettled question that has not been litigated before and that implicates OPRA’s privacy prong, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.”

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  • New Mexico

    The Attorney General, the District Attorney, or any person whose written request has been denied. NMSA 1978 § 14-2-12(A).

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  • North Carolina

    The Public records law provides that “any person” who is denied access to public records may apply to the appropriate division of the General Court of Justice for an order compelling disclosure. G.S. § 132-9.

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  • North Dakota

    An “interested person or entity” may sue. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.2(1).

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  • Oklahoma

    Any person denied access may bring a civil action. 51 O.S. § 24A.17.B.

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  • Oregon

    Any party dissatisfied with the appeal review may sue. A public body must issue notice of intent to sue within seven days and must institute suit within a subsequent seven days. ORS 192.411(2); ORS 192.415 (formerly ORS 192.450; ORS 192.460).

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  • Rhode Island

    Any person or entity seeking access or the Attorney General.

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  • South Carolina

    "Any citizen of the State" may bring suit. "Citizen" would include corporations. S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-100(A). Because the state may not give citizen to residents of the state, it is an open question whether a U.S. citizen that resides outside South Carolina may bring suit.

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  • South Dakota

    Presumably any requestor who has had request denied in whole or in part by a public records officer or objects to the officer’s fee or time estimate. SDCL §1-27-38.

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  • Tennessee

    Any citizen of Tennessee may request to inspect a record and shall be entitled to request access subject to judicial review. T.C.A. § 10-7-505(a).

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  • Texas

    Section 552.321(a) provides that if a governmental body refuses to request an Attorney General’s decision or to supply public information, the person requesting the information or the Attorney General may file suit for a writ of mandamus compelling the governmental body to make the information available to the public. Such mandamus suits are controlled by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Nothing in the Act, case law, or Attorney General opinions state what mandamus approach is preferred and some open records actions have been litigated as normal civil lawsuits. Amendments made to the Act in 1999 permit actions for declaratory judgment or injunctive relief to be brought against a governmental body that violates the Act. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.3215.

    A governmental body may file a declaratory judgment action against the Attorney General to determine its rights and liabilities under the Act. City of Garland v. Dallas Morning News, 22 S.W.3d 351 (Tex. 2000). However, the only suit a governmental body or officer for public information may file seeking to withhold information from a requestor is a suit that is filed in accordance with Sections 552.325 or 552.353, and must be brought no later than the thirtieth calendar day after the governmental body receives notice of the Attorney General’s decision that the information must be disclosed. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.324. A governmental body, officer for public information, or other person or entity that files suit seeking to withhold information from the requestor may not file suit against the requestor, although the requestor is entitled to intervene in the suit. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.325(a). The governmental body must make a timely good faith effort to notify the requestor of the existence of the suit and inform the requestor, among other things, of his right to intervene. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.325(b).

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  • Utah

    Any individual may appeal the State Records Committee’s or the government entity’s decision by filing a petition with the district court. See Utah Code § 63G-2-404(5).

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  • Vermont

    “Any person aggrieved by the denial of a request for public records” can file a court action at the trial level to obtain a de novo review of the administrative decision; the court’s review can include in camera inspection, and the court is specifically authorized to segregate disclosable from non-disclosable records. 1 V.S.A. § 319(a). The agency bears the burden of persuading the court that the refusal to disclose is correct.

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  • Virginia

    Any person, including the Commonwealth's Attorney, who has been denied the rights and privileges conferred by the Act. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3713.A.

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  • Washington

    An action may be brought by a requester, by the agency, or by any person “named in the record or to whom the record specifically pertains.” RCW 42.56.540, .550.

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  • West Virginia

    Just as "any person" may request access to records under the Freedom of Information Act, "any person denied the right to inspect the public record of a public body" may sue to enforce that right. W. Va. Code § 29B-1-5(1).

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  • Wyoming

    The person who is denied access to the record. See, e.g., Wyo. R. Civ. P. 17.

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