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Bitterman v. Village of Oakley

Court of Appeals of Michigan

January 22, 2015

SHANNON BITTERMAN, Plaintiff/Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
v.
VILLAGE OF OAKLEY, Defendant/Appellee/Cross-Appellant

Page 643

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 644

Saginaw Circuit Court. LC No. 13-019395-CZ.

For SHANNON BITTERMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT-CROSS-APPELLEE: PHILIP L ELLISON, HEMLOCK, MI.

For VILLAGE OF OAKLEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE-CROSS-APPELLANT: MARY MASSARON, BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI.

Before: METER, P.J., and WHITBECK and RIORDAN, JJ. WHITBECK, J. did not participate.

OPINION

Page 645

[309 Mich.App. 55] Michael J. Riordanordan, J.

Plaintiff, Shannon Bitterman, appeals as of right the circuit court's order granting partial summary disposition in favor of defendant, village of Oakley (the " Village" ), in this case brought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), MCL 15.231 et seq. The [309 Mich.App. 56] Village cross-appeals. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On March 20, 2013, Bitterman made a two-part FOIA request to the Village, seeking records, documents, and information about Village police reservists from the previous three years. She also requested a copy of an audio recording from a September 13, 2011 Village council meeting. On March 21, 2013, the Village's clerk denied both requests, citing the civil litigation exemption, MCL 15.243(1)(v). On April 3, 2013, Bitterman filed a complaint in the circuit court, alleging that her requests were wrongfully denied. Bitterman also submitted a second FOIA request to the Village on April 3, 2013, requesting a list containing the names, full addresses, and telephone numbers of every donor to the Village of Oakley Police Donation Fund for the previous five years. On April 8, 2013, the Village denied the request for donor information, citing the privacy exemption, MCL 15.243(1)(a). Bitterman amended her complaint to add allegations that the April 3 FOIA request was wrongfully denied.

Subsequently, on April 19, 2013, the Village asserted an additional ground for denying Bitterman's request for information relating to the police reservists. It sent Bitterman a letter stating that it was denying her FOIA request because she failed to sufficiently identify the information she sought. The Village also denied her request for the audio recording of the council meeting because the recording had been destroyed before Bitterman submitted her FOIA request, so it had no existing recording.

[309 Mich.App. 57] The parties filed cross-motions for summary disposition. In its motion, the Village argued that the information on the police reservists was exempt from disclosure because Bitterman's request was overly broad and failed to sufficiently describe a public record. The Village contended that it does not maintain a list of police reservists--active or inactive. The Village also argued that the disclosure of the information regarding the police reservists was protected by numerous FOIA exemptions and that the privacy exemption of MCL 15.243(1)(a) applied to Bitterman's ...


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