1 / ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS GREG ABBOTT January 23, 2014 Mr. Charles H. Weir Assistant City Attorney City of San Antonio P.O. Box San Antonio, Texas OR Dear Mr. Weir: You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act (the "Act"), chapter 5 52 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# (COSA File No. W019640). The City of San Antonio (the "city") received a request for (1) information related to the property damage that resulted from a particular traffic accident, (2) photographs and video recordings related to that traffic accident, and (3) information related to certain insurance agreements. You state the city does not have information responsive to the third category of the request. 1 You claim the submitted information is excepted from disclosure under section of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information. Initially, we note portions ofthe submitted information, which we have marked, are not responsive to the instant request because they were created after the date the request was received. This ruling does not address the public availability of non-responsive information, and the city is not required to release non-responsive information in response to this request. 'The Act does not require a governmental body to release information that did not exist when a request for information was received or to prepare new information in response to a request. See Econ. Opportunities Dev. Corp. v. Bustamante, 562 S.W.2d 266, (Tex. Civ. App.-San Antonio 1978, writ dism'd); Open Records Decision Nos. 605 at 2 ( 1992), 452 at 3 ( 1986), 362 at 2 ( 1983). POST OFFICE Box 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS TEL: (512) An Equal Employmmt Opportunity EmploJ~r Printttl on RuyrlrJ Paprr
2 Mr. Charles H. Weir ~ Page 2 Next, we note the responsive information contains a CR~3 accident report form completed pursuant to chapter 550 of the Transportation Code. See Transp. Code (officer's accident report). Section (b) states that, except as provided by subsection (c) or subsection (e), accident reports are privileged and confidential. Id (b). Section (c)(4) provides for the release of accident reports to a person who provides two of the following three pieces of information: (1) date of the accident; (2) name of any person involved in the accident; and (3) specific location of the accident.!d (c)(4). Under this provision, a governmental entity is required to release a copy of an accident report to a person who provides the agency with two or more pieces of information specified by the statute.!d. In this instance, the requestor has provided the city with the requisite pieces of information specified by the statute. Although you seek to withhold this information under section of the Government Code, we note information that is specifically made public by statute may not be withheld from the public under any of the exceptions to public disclosure under the Act. See, e.g., Open Records Decision Nos. 544 (1990), 378 (1983), 161 (1977), 146 (1976). Accordingly, the city must release the submitted CR-3 accident report form we have marked in its entirety to this requestor pursuant to section (c)(4) of the Transportation Code. We note some of the responsive information is subject to section of the Government Code. Section (a)(l) provides for the required public disclosure of"a completed report, audit, evaluation, or investigation made of, for, or by a governmental body[,]" unless it is excepted by section of the Government Code or "made confidential under [the Act] or other law[.]" Gov't Code (a)(l). We have marked a report completed by or for the city that is subject to section (a)(l) and must be released unless the information is either excepted under section of the Government Code or is confidential under the Act or other law. Although you assert the completed report is excepted from disclosure under section of the Government Code, this section is discretionary and does not make information confidential under the Act. See Dallas Area Rapid Transit v. Dallas Morning News, 4 S.W.3d 469, 475~76 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1999, no pet.) (governmental body may waive section ); Open Records Decision No. 542 at 4 (1990) (statutory predecessor to section may be waived); see also Open Records Decision No. 665 at 2 n.5 (2000) (discretionary exceptions generally). Therefore, the city may not withhold the report subject to section under section However, we note the report contains information that is subject to sections and ofthe Government Code, which make information confidential under the Act. 2 Thus, we will address the applicability of sections and to the report that is subject to section We will also address your argument under section for the remaining responsive information. 2 The Office of the Attorney General will raise mandatory exceptions on behalf of a governmental body, but ordinarily will not raise other exceptions. See Open Records Decision Nos. 481 (1987), 480 (1987), 470 (1987).
3 Mr. Charles H. Weir - Page 3 We first address section of the Government Code for the responsive information that is not subjectto section of the Government Code. Section provides, in part: (a) Information is excepted from [required public disclosure] if it is information relating to litigation of a civil or criminal nature to which the state or a political subdivision is or may be a party or to which an officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision, as a consequence of the person's office or employment, is or may be a party. (c) Information relating to litigation involving a governmental body or an officer or employee of a governmental body is excepted from disclosure under Subsection (a) only if the litigation is pending or reasonably anticipated on the date that the requestor applies to the officer for public information for access to or duplication of the information. Gov't Code (a), (c). A governmental body that claims an exception to disclosure under section has the burden of providing relevant facts and documentation sufficient to establish the applicability of this exception to the information that it seeks to withhold. To meet this burden, the governmental body must demonstrate that ( 1) litigation was pending or reasonably anticipated on the date the governmental body received the request for information, and (2) the information at issue is related to the pending or anticipated litigation. See Univ. oftex. LawSch. v. Tex. Legal Found, 958 S.W.2d479, 481 (Tex. App.-Austin 1997, orig. proceeding); Heard v. Houston Post Co., 684 S.W.2d210,212(Tex.App.-Houston [1stDist.] 1984, writrefdn.r.e.). The governmental body must meet both prongs of this test for information to be excepted from disclosure under section ( a). See Open Records Decision No. 551 at 4 (1990). The question of whether litigation is reasonably anticipated must be determined on a case-by-case basis. See Open Records Decision No. 452 at 4 (1986). To demonstrate that litigation is reasonably anticipated, the governmental body must provide this office ''concrete evidence showing that the claim that litigation may ensue is more than mere conjecture." Id This office has concluded, when a governmental body receives a notice of claim letter, it can meet its burden of showing that litigation is reasonably anticipated by representing the notice of claim letter is in compliance with the requirements of the Texas Tort Claims Act (the "TTCA"), Civil Practice and Remedies Code chapter 101, or an applicable municipal ordinance. See Open Records Decision No ( 1996). You state, and submit supporting documentation showing, the city received a claim letter from the requestor on the date the city received the present request for information. In the claim letter, the requestor alleges personal injuries and damages to his client stemming from the traffic accident specified in the request, which involved a city employee. You state the
4 Mr. Charles H. Weir- Page 4 claim letter complies with the TTCA. Based upon these representations and our review, we conclude the city reasonably anticipated litigation at the time the city received the present request. We also agree the information at issue is related to the anticipated litigation for the purposesofsection Accordingly, weconcludethecitymaywithholdtheresponsive information that is not subject to section under section of the Government Code. We note once the information has been obtained by all parties to the anticipated litigation, through discovery or otherwise, no section (a) interest exists with respect to that information. See Open Records Decision No. 349 at 2 ( 1982). We also note the applicability of section (a) ends when the litigation is concluded or is no longer reasonably anticipated. See Attorney General Opinion MW-575 at 2 (1982); Open Records Decision Nos. 350 at 3 (1982), 349 at 2. We will now address the responsive information that is subject to section of the Government Code. Section (a)(l) of the Government Code excepts from disclosure the home addresses and telephone numbers, emergency contact information, social security numbers, and family member information of current or former officials or employees of a governmental body who request that this information be kept confidential under section oftheGovernmentCode. Gov'tCode (a)(1). Whether a particular piece of information is protected by section ( a)(l) must be determined at the time the request for it is made. See Open Records Decision No. 530 at 5 (1989). Therefore, a governmental body must withhold information under section on behalf of a current or former official or employee only if the individual made a request for confidentiality under section prior to the date on which the request for this information was made. Accordingly, if the individual whose information is at issue timely requested confidentiality pursuant to section , the information we have marked must be withheld under section (a)(l). The city may not withhold this information under section if the employee did not make a timely election to keep the information confidential. Section of the Government Code provides information relating to a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit, a motor vehicle title or registration, or a personal identification document issued by an agency of Texas or another state or country is excepted from public release. Gov't Code (a). We conclude the city must withhold the information we have marked under section In summary, the city must release the CR-3 accident report form we have marked pursuant to section (c)(4) of the Transportation Code. With the exception of the information 3 We note section (c) of the Government Code allows a governmental body to redact the information described in subsection 552.l30(a) without the necessity of seeking a decision from the attorney general. See Gov't Code (c). If a governmental body redacts such information, it must notify the requestor in accordance with section (e). See id (d), (e).
5 Mr. Charles H. Weir- Page 5 we have marked that is subject to section of the Government Code, the city may withhold the remaining responsive infonnation under section of the Government Code. The city must withhold the infonnation we have marked under section (a)(l) of the Government Code if the individual whose infonnation is at issue timely requested confidentiality pursuant to section of the Government Code. The city must withhold the information we have marked under section of the Government Code. The city must release the remaining infonnation. 4 This letter ruling is limited to the particular infonnation at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous detennination regarding any other infonnation or any other circumstances. This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For more infonnation concerning those rights and responsibilities, please visit our website at or! ruling info.shtml, or call the Office of the Attorney General's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at (877) Questions concerning the allowable charges for providing public infonnation under the Act may be directed to the Office of the Attorney General, toll free, at (888) Sincerely, ~~ Britni Fabian Assistant Attorney General Open Records Division BF/tch 4 We note the infonnation being released contains the requestor's client's motor vehicle infonnation, which is excepted from public disclosure under section ofthe Government Code. Because this section protects privacy, the requestor has a right of access to her own motor vehicle infonnation under section of the Government Code. See Gov't Code (a) ("person's authorized representative has special right of access, beyond right of general public, to infonnation held by governmental body that relates to person and that is protected from public disclosure by laws intended to protect that person's privacy interests"); Open Records Decision No. 481 at 4 (1987) (privacy theories not implicated when individuals request infonnation concerning themselves). As noted above, section (c) of the Government Code allows a governmental body to redact the infonnation described in subsection (a) without the necessity of seeking a decision from the attorney general. See Gov't Code ( c). If a governmental body redacts such infonnation, it must notify the requestor in accordance with section (e). See id (d), (e). Therefore, if the city receives another request for the same infonnation from a person who would not have a right of access to the present requestor's motor vehicle infonnation, section (c) authorizes the city to redact this requestor's client's motor vehicle infonnation without requesting another ruling.
6 Mr. Charles H. Weir - Page 6 Ref: ID# Enc. Submitted documents c: Requestor (w/o enclosures)
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