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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

A Group Can Be Considered One Person When Applying "Repeated Request" Provision of FOIA

An individual submitted a FOIA request to a road district seeking certain communications and documents. In response, the road district provided certain non-exempt responsive records. However, because some of the requested records had been previously provided to the requester and two other individuals in a prior FOIA request, the road district denied that portion of the FOIA request on the grounds that it was a "repeated request" from the same person for the same records that were otherwise unchanged or identical to the records previously provided by the road district.

The requestor then filed a request for review with the PAC Office of the Attorney General (PAC). The PAC issued a non-binding (advisory) letter in 2022 PAC 73336, finding that the road district had properly classified the FOIA request as an unduly burdensome repeated request from the same person pursuant to FOIA section 3(g). The PAC rejected the requester's argument that because some of the previous requests were filed by two other individuals the "repeated requests" provision did not apply, finding that the requester and the other two individuals were acting as a "group" since they shared FOIA requests, responses, and responsive records and collectively discussed who would submit which FOIA requests for particular records. The PAC noted that FOIA expressly defines a “person” to include individuals acting as a group. As a result, the PAC determined that the road district properly designated the requestor and two named individuals as one “person” and the road district did not have to provide records to the requester that had been previously provided to other members of the requestor’s group.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov and Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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