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PR 14-37 Howard v. Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority – No Violation

The Complainant alleged the RITBA violated the APRA when it improperly withheld records responsive to her August 9, 2013 APRA request. The APRA request sought amendments made to a contract and this request was denied by letter dated August 13, 2013 when RITBA represented that the requested documents did not exist. In May 2014, the Complainant received a copy of these amendments through a third party and these amendments existed at the time of her August 9, 2013 APRA request. This Department sought an explanation of the search and retrieval that was undertaken when the RITBA received the August 9, 2013 APRA request in order to determine whether the RITBA conducted a reasonable search for responsive documents. It appears that when the RITBA received the August 9, 2013 APRA request, the RITBA's attorney or a paralegal searched the location where these documents should have been found. We cannot conclude the search to find the responsive document was unreasonable. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-4(c). We have neither been presented nor discovered any evidence to support the conclusion that the RITBA purposefully withheld documents responsive to the original APRA request.

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