It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a medical record! It’s a personnel record! All wrong – but it is a government record ordered to be turned over to my client.

I recently prevailed in an Open Public Records Act case, O’Boyle v. Department of Treasury.  The client had requested information about how and when a retired government employee already receiving state health benefits was permitted to “opt out” of benefits he would receive as local mayor and instead collect a payment (thus having health benefits while simultaneously getting paid not to take them a second time). This boondoggle is not new, unfortunately.  The New Jersey Treasury Department refused to provide the records, claiming them to be medical information exempt from OPRA.  We filed suit, because only information about money was sought – and after all, the Treasury Department does not even have “medical records”.  After suing, the State changed its position to claim the records to be exempt as “personnel records”.  The crux of this position is one that many OPRA requesters see – the government’s attempt to claim any records relating to employment are exempt personnel records.  Judge Douglas H. Hurd (Mercer County) would have none of it.  The records were ordered to be provided.  The case is still open as the State contests my fee petition.

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