Herald-Whig

University of Missouri to go to trial in open records case

The Associated Press
Posted: Sep. 11, 2018 7:00 am Updated: Sep. 11, 2018 4:02 pm

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) A judge has ruled that a case against the University of Missouri regarding its open records practices will go to trial.

Circuit Judge Jeff Harris on Friday rejected the university's request to end the 2016 lawsuit filed by Animal Rescue Media Education, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported .

The lawsuit said the university estimated it would cost more than $82,000 to fulfill the animal rights group's request for records relating to about 180 animals used in research. The lawsuit said the cost is so high that it prevents the public from accessing information.

The ruling Friday "means that the defendants told the judge that they didn't think we had a case and the judge disagreed," said Daniel Kolde, the attorney representing the animal rights group, which is also known as the Beagle Freedom Project.

The university declined to comment on the judge's decision.

"We take our obligations under the Sunshine Law very seriously and complete hundreds of requests every year," University spokesman Christian Basi wrote in an email. "As stewards of public resources, it's our duty to remain transparent and accountable to the public."

Harris noted in his ruling that the Open Records Act is meant to "favor of openness unless otherwise provided by law."

Harris said one issue that needs to be settled at trial is whether the university is keeping records in a manner that inflates costs when compiling requested records. Other issues include the computation of time needed to respond to requests and whether principal investigators, who cost about $100 an hour, should be used to compile records.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com