Employer Has Standing Under PIA to Seek Mandamus Relief When Information Requested by Employee is Not Released

01/10/2011

Under the Texas Public Information Act, a “requestor” may file suit for a writ of mandamus compelling the release of public information.  In The City of Dallas v. The Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Court of Appeals held that an employer has standing to file such a suit when its employee made the initial request.

Reporters for the Dallas Morning News requested certain emails from the City of Dallas. The City claimed that the documents fell under PIA exceptions. The Attorney General issued opinions allowing some exceptions and disallowing others, and the News filed suit, seeking a writ of mandamus requiring the release of the requested information.

The City asserted that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the News was not the “requestor” and therefore lacked standing, arguing that the information was requested not by the News, but by its employees. The trial court disagreed and denied the plea to the jurisdiction.

The Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that a “newspaper, acting through its agents, is a ‘requestor’ under [Texas Government Code] section 552.321.” The court explained that the requests identified the reporters as News employees and gave dallasnews.com email addresses. The record also contained the reporters’ affidavits stating that their requests “were made for the sole purpose of executing their job duties and responsibilities…and for the express ownership, benefit, and use of the News.”

For more information please visit the Public Law Practice Group page of the Haynes and Boone, LLP Web site, or contact any of the lawyers listed below:

Thomas J. Williams
817.347.6625
thomas.williams@haynesboone.com

 

You may also view the alert in the PDF linked below.

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