Advance Local Media v. Ohio State Univ., 2021-00596PQ

CourtCourt of Claims of Ohio
Writing for the CourtJEFF CLARK Special Master
Citation2021 Ohio 4651
PartiesADVANCE LOCAL MEDIA, Requester v. OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, Respondent
Decision Date21 January 2022
Docket Number2021-00596PQ

2021-Ohio-4651

ADVANCE LOCAL MEDIA, Requester
v.

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, Respondent

No. 2021-00596PQ

Court of Claims of Ohio

January 21, 2022


Filed November 10, 2021

RECOMMENDATION TO DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE

JEFF CLARK Special Master

{¶ 1} The Ohio Public Records Act (PRA) requires copies of public records to be made available to any person upon request. R.C. 149.43(B)(1). This action is filed under R.C. 2743.75, which is intended "to provide for an expeditious and economical procedure" to enforce the PRA in the Court of Claims. R.C. 2743.75(A)

{¶2} On August 13, 2021, requester Advance Local Media sought records from respondent Ohio State University (OSU) related to investigation of alleged wrongdoing by an individual through her contact with student athletes. (Complaint, Exh. 3.) The request seeks 1) all interviews and other evidentiary records of both OSU and outside counsel reporting to OSU, 2) all internal and external OSU communications related to the investigation, and 3) all records regarding engagement, instructions, and invoices submitted for the work of outside counsel. The complaint and an OSU response letter establish that litigation of these requests will require determination of numerous claims and issues including, but not limited to:

• ambiguity, overbreadth, and voluminosity
• requests for information rather than records
• non-existence of records
• mootness of some requests
• exceptions for attorney-client privilege and assertions of waiver
• exceptions for attorney work product
• exceptions under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act
1
• exceptions for State Medical Board confidential investigatory records

(Complaint at 3-9, Exh. 4.)

{¶3} In this special statutory action, the special master may, sua sponte, consider whether a complaint should be dismissed for any reason. "Upon the recommendation of the special master, the court of claims on its own motion may dismiss the complaint at any time." R.C. 2743.75(D)(2). On review of the complaint the special master concludes that resolution of this dispute is unlikely to be expeditious if litigated under the procedures available in R.C. 2743.75. Because the parties may not conduct discovery, R.C. 2743.75(E)(3)(a), determination of fact-dependent issues would likely require multiple voluminous inquiries by the special master under R.C. 2743.75(E)(3)(c). Further, records potentially subject to judicial review...

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