New Court of Appeals Opinion on Public Information Act

The Maryland Court of Appeals decided a Public Information Act (PIA) request by someone who wanted to snoop into records involving the construction of a University of Maryland Hospital. UMMS refused to produce the records because it is not the government, an agency, or otherwise a part of the state of Maryland government.

The snooper is a community activist Reverend Daki Napata, who 20 years ago unsuccessfully tried to unseat Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. What is Reverend Napata’s concern? I have no idea.

Anyway, Reverend Napata lost twice below. Judge Matricciani denied his motion for summary judgment on his complaint and Judge Murdock dismissed the Complaint completely, finding that UMMS is not an instrumentality of the state of Maryland and therefore is not subject to the Public Information Act (PIA).

Both the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and the Maryland Court of Appeals disagreed with Judge Murdock, finding that because the state of Maryland maintains a high level of control over UMMS operations UMMS is an instrumentality of the state of Maryland for the purposes of the PIA.

Yet both courts also agreed that the case should be dismissed because UMMS’s enacting statute expressly exempts it from any laws “affecting only governmental or public entities.” That is a deal killer for snooping on UMMS.

Edward Smith, Jr. and Kerrie Campbell represented the Plaintiff. The hospital went for the big guns and hired Hogan & Hartson (Hogan Lovells now?).

You can read the full opinion here.