Volunteer fire co. subject to OPRA but municipality responsible for plaintiff’s legal fees

Ocean County Superior Court Assignment Judge Marlene Lynch Ford ruled on 4/03/2017 that Lavallette Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 is an “instrumentality” of Lavallette Borough and subject to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) because it “has been delegated the obligation to meet the public safety and police function of firefighting.” Judge Ford also ruled that the Borough Clerk will be responsible for filling the request as the default records custodian since the fire company failed to designate one. The judge also awarded attorney fees to the plaintiff — which is mandated under OPRA for successful  challenges — but required the Borough rather than the fire company to pay, noting that fire company volunteers could not be held personally liable.

 

NJ Open Government Notes
by John Paff
Court: Volunteer fire company is subject to OPRA but municipal clerk is the company’s default records custodian and municipality must pay requestor’s attorney fees.
April 8, 2017

 

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