Whether plaintiff was a prevailing party; Costs and attorney fees; Denial of request for punitive damages
The trial court properly awarded plaintiff costs and attorney fees in this action filed under the FOIA. A minor called defendant's 911 center for assistance and, immediately following the call, shot and killed his uncle, claiming self-defense. Plaintiff submitted an FOIA request for disclosure of tapes of the 911 call, police dispatch radio traffic, and records identifying who was staffing defendant's 911 center when the minor called 911, which defendant denied. Defendant claimed plaintiff was not a prevailing party because plaintiff failed to show the suit was reasonably necessary to compel disclosure of the requested information. Defendant failed to show the trial court's finding plaintiff was the prevailing party and "it was necessary for the lawsuit to be filed to produce the tape," was clearly erroneous, because it was undisputed defendant did not release the tape until ordered to do so by the trial court. The court held that as long as an action for disclosure of public records is initiated under the FOIA, the prevailing party is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney fees, costs, and disbursements including all such fees, costs, and disbursements related to achieving production of the public records. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Full Text Opinion
State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012