Texasfile, LLC v. Boevers, Case No. 116,852

CourtUnited States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
Citation437 P.3d 211
Parties TEXASFILE, LLC, Plaintiff/Appellant, v. Jeannie BOEVERS, in Her Capacity as Kingfisher County Clerk, Defendant/Appellee, and Lori Fulks, in Her Capacity as Garvin County Clerk, Intervenor/Appellee.
Docket NumberCase No. 116,852
Decision Date29 August 2018

437 P.3d 211

TEXASFILE, LLC, Plaintiff/Appellant,
Jeannie BOEVERS, in Her Capacity as Kingfisher County Clerk, Defendant/Appellee,
Lori Fulks, in Her Capacity as Garvin County Clerk, Intervenor/Appellee.

Case No. 116,852

Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma, Division No. 4.

FILED: August 29, 2018
Mandate Issued: March 27, 2019

William K. Elias, Wyatt D. Swinford, ELIAS, BOOKS, BROWN, & NELSON, P.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Henry J. Hood, HENRY J. HOOD, PLLC, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellant

Mike Fields, KINGFISHER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, John M. Salmon, Eric Epplin, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Kingfisher, Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellee

Randall J. Wood, April D. Kelso, PIERCE COUCH HENDRICKSON, BAYSINGER & GREEN, L.L.P., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Greg Mashburn, GARVIN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Carol Price Dillingham, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Norman, Oklahoma, for Intervenor/Appellee


¶ 1 Trial court plaintiff, TexasFile, LLC, (TexasFile) appeals the trial court's Journal Entry of Judgment denying the summary judgment motion of TexasFile and granting summary judgment in favor of defendant, Jeannie Boevers, in her capacity as Kingfisher County Clerk, and Intervenor, Lori Fulks, in her capacity as Garvin County Clerk. This accelerated appeal proceeds pursuant to Okla.Sup.Ct.R. 1.36(c), 12 O.S. Supp. 2017, ch. 15, app. 1.


¶ 2 TexasFile is a company that provides remote access to images of county land records to its subscribers via the Internet. TexasFile does business in Texas, New Mexico and a few counties in Oklahoma. TexasFile has contracts with officials from Blaine County, Logan County, Oklahoma County, and Grady County to receive digital land records for its business. TexasFile receives copies of available digital land records and allows their subscribers to access the images of these public land records.

¶ 3 On May 6, 2016, TexasFile requested, pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Records Act, a "complete electronic copy of all the Kingfisher County land records that are currently available in electronic format." TexasFile did not request the associated tract index. TexasFile specifically requested all records that were currently available on OKcountyrecords.com. TexasFile also requested the fee and timeline for providing the requested scanned records in electronic form. The County Clerk of Kingfisher County did not respond to the May 6, 2016, request.

¶ 4 TexasFile made a second request for the electronic copy of the land records on January 11, 2017. TexasFile also acknowledged they had recently made similar requests to Oklahoma, Blaine, and Logan Counties and those counties had complied with the requests. TexasFile had entered into a formal agreement to receive electronic copies of the land records with each of those counties.

¶ 5 On May 15, 2017, Jeannie Boevers, as County Clerk of Kingfisher County, responded to TexasFile's request per the Oklahoma Open Records Act and denied TexasFile's request. Boevers explained:

This is to inform you that your request does not fall within the provisions of the Act as interpreted by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in County Records, Inc. v. Armstrong , 2012 OK 60, 299 P.3d 865. Neither the tract index nor the data (land records) inextricably linked to the computer software can be provided for resale. Commercial use or dissemination of these records is prohibited. You are welcome to come to my office like all other persons to inspect and copy documents.

¶ 6 TexasFile filed this declaratory judgment and mandamus action against Jeannie Boevers in her capacity as County Clerk of Kingfisher County asking the trial court to enter an order determining TexasLink was entitled to an electronic copy of the Kingfisher County public land records maintained by the County Clerk, pursuant to the Oklahoma

437 P.3d 213

Open Records Act, and compelling the County Clerk of Kingfisher County to make available the land records of the Kingfisher County Clerk's office in an electronic format at a reasonable fee.

¶ 7 After filing an Answer in the litigation, Boevers, in her capacity as Kingfisher County Clerk, and joined by Lori Fulks, in her capacity as Garvin County Clerk, (collectively referred to as County Clerks) filed a Motion to Consolidate Cases and Supporting Brief. County Clerks alleged TexasFile filed an identical action as the present action again Lori Fulks, in her capacity as Garvin County Clerk. County Clerks further alleged TexasFile sought a declaratory judgment that it was entitled to electronic copies of the public land records of Garvin County for a reasonable fee under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. County Clerks further alleged the legal issues in the Kingfisher County and the Garvin County actions are identical. The County Clerks also asserted:

[a] number of County Clerks of the State of Oklahoma ... seek a uniform judicial determination of the legal issue raised by TexasFile, LLC. Specifically, does the Open Records Act require the County Clerk's office to empty its electronic files into the hands of the Plaintiff so that the Plaintiff may then resell these records to customers in a commercial enterprise?

The County Clerks argued several factors favored consolidation — consolidation would prevent resolution of this important legal issue in a piecemeal fashion; concerns of judicial economy; and uniformity in a decision. In addition, County Clerks argued the Garvin County action was in its early stages of litigation.

¶ 8 On October 20, 2017, TexasFile filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and Brief in Support arguing there were no material facts in dispute and it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. TexasFile argued Boevers, as County Clerk of Kingfisher County, had a statutory duty to maintain land records in Kingfisher County and to provide electronic copies of these land records to those making a request for the records. TexasFile relies on Title 19 O.S. § 286 and the Oklahoma Open Records Act for its...

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