The city this week settled an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) violation lawsuit filed by a Morris County animal rights activist by paying out $5,194.
Animal rights activist Alan Rosenberg, who runs the NJ Animal Observer blog and social media page, filed an open records request in January seeking a year’s worth of specific Animal Control Division records containing details of animal intake and other information, according to his court complaint.
The city provided him statistics rather than actual records. He informed the city it failed to satisfy his request. The city then produced hundreds of pages of “Impound Animal Report” records.
Rosenberg was told the records will cost him $59.50 for copies. He inspected the records to find them incomplete. The documents did not contain how each animal was disposed (killed, adopted, reclaimed, died at shelter, and so forth).
Rosenberg, who advocates for no-kill policies at animal shelters, was allowed to inspect more records in March, this time documents containing how each animal was disposed, but those records were redacted.
The city redacted names of pet owners and adoptees to protect their privacy. Rosenberg complained about the redaction, but the city did not respond resulting in the lawsuit being filed in late April.
Law director Domenick Stampone told city council members the redaction turned out to be erroneous. He said the names the city was protecting were of other animal shelters that were receiving pets from the city’s animal control facility.
Council members approved the settlement paying Rosenberg’s attorney fees of $5,194 on Tuesday night.
The city presumably provided Rosenberg with unredacted versions of the documents as part of the settlement.