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Monday, December 9, 2019

FOIA Case Moot Because Records Provided to Requester

We don't see a lot of FOIA court cases - most of our guidance on FOIA comes from PAC opinions, both binding and advisory. Recently, however, an Illinois appellate court addressed a FOIA dispute in MAP v. City of Crystal Lake (unreported opinion).

In this case, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police (MAP) had filed a FOIA request with the City requesting attorney billing records and meeting minutes relating to a lawsuit involving the termination and subsequent reinstatement of police officers. The City provided the meeting minutes but denied the request for the attorney invoices and closed session meeting minutes. MAP filed a lawsuit challenging the City's denial of its FOIA request. While the lawsuit was ongoing, the City provided 136 pages of redacted attorney billing records to MAP. Both parties then filed motions for summary judgment. The circuit court ruled in favor of the City, and MAP appealed.

The appellate court did not rule on the merits of the FOIA request or response, instead finding the case moot because the City had already provided the requested records to MAP, which ended the dispute in this case. The appellate court also ruled that MAP forfeited any challenge to the City's redaction of the records or for the award of attorneys fees as a prevailing party because MAP failed to raise these issues in its motion for summary judgment. 


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