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Lueders v. Krug

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District II

June 5, 2019

Bill Lueders, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Scott Krug, Defendant-Appellant.

          APPEAL from an order of the circuit court for Dane County No. 2016CV2189: RHONDA L. LANFORD, Judge.

          Before Reilly, P.J., Gundrum and Hagedorn, JJ.

          GUNDRUM, J.

         ¶1 Scott Krug appeals from an order granting mandamus relief to Bill Lueders and ordering Krug to produce "electronic copies" of records Lueders sought through an open records request. We affirm.

         Background

         ¶2 On June 21, 2016, Lueders e-mailed Krug a request to review, under Wisconsin's open records law,

any and all citizen correspondence, including phone records, sent and/or received by Representative Krug or his/her staff, beginning January 1 through and including April 8, 2016, related to the following search terms:
AB600/SB459; AB603/SB477; AB804/SB654; AB874/SB239; stewardship fund; DNR scientists; state parks; conservation staff; high capacity wells; groundwater; lakeshore dredging; navigable waters; wetlands; water rights.

         In response to this request, Krug's office made, as related to this case, paper printouts from responsive e-mails and arranged for Lueders to inspect and/or purchase copies of these printouts. On July 19, 2016, Lueders inspected the printouts and obtained copies of some of them. On July 21, 2016, Lueders e-mailed Krug requesting "to receive the records in electronic form." Lueders clarified he was requesting:

access to all emails received by your office is [sic] response to proposed changes to the state's water laws, from Jan. 1, 2016 to Feb. 29, 2016. This request is not for printed copies of these records; it is for the records in electronic form, as an email folder, or on a flash drive or CD.

         ¶3 Citing Wis.Stat. § 19.35(1)(b) (2017-18), [1] Krug declined to provide Lueders with a copy of the e-mails in electronic form. That statutory provision states:

Except as otherwise provided by law, any requester has a right to inspect a record and to make or receive a copy of a record. If a requester appears personally to request a copy of a record that permits copying, the authority having custody of the record may, at its option, permit the requester to copy the record or provide the requester with a copy substantially as readable as the original.

Id. (emphasis added). Krug expressed to Lueders that the paper printouts he had previously provided for Lueders' inspection and copying satisfied the requirements of the open records law because they were "substantially as readable" as the e-mails themselves.

         ¶4 Lueders subsequently filed this mandamus action seeking an order directing Krug to provide him with an "electronic, native copy of the requested records." Both parties moved for summary judgment and agreed at a hearing on the motion that no material facts were in dispute. The circuit ...


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