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PR15-10 Saunders v. RI Division of Lotteries – No Violation

The Complainant alleged the Rhode Island Division of Lotteries ("Division") violated the APRA when it improperly denied a September 17, 2014 APRA request. The Division sent an email indicating that the estimated time to produce the requested documents would be approximately 140 hours for an estimated fee of $2,100. With respect to pre-payment of the fees, we have previously found that the APRA does not prohibit a public body from requesting pre-payment of fees. See Smith v. Watch Hill Fire District, PR 99-15. Moreover, ever since the 2012 APRA amendment, the APRA expressly allows an entity, such as the Division, to require prepayment for "costs properly charged" and provides that in such a case "the production of records shall not be deemed untimely if the public body is awaiting receipt of payment." R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-7(b). No argument or evidence was presented that the estimated fee was improperly charged. Additionally, we cannot conclude the Division violated the APRA when it decided not to grant a fee waiver, and also observe that the APRA allows a court to reduce or waive the costs to fulfill an APRA request.

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