Appeals Court Rules FOIA Denial Triggers Lawsuit Clock

The Court of Appeals, in a per curiam decision in Progress Michigan v. Attorney General has ruled last the Freedom of Information Act allows denials to be challenged in the Court of Claims, but the action must be filed within 180 days of a final determination.

Progress Michigan had asked for emails from the private accounts of 21 Department of Attorney General staff after records from an earlier request showed some instances of using their private accounts for official business. The department rejected the appeal, saying the only records it had from those accounts were exempt as attorney work product. The group first appealed to the department, which denied again, and then to the Court of Claims. Its challenge in the court, though, was not properly signed and notarized and so was dismissed. The court followed the Supreme Court’s reasoning on medical malpractice cases in finding that failure to sign the complaint was fatal and could not be cured by amending the complaint to include the proper signatures.

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