Hurst v. City of Norfolk (circuit court)

In a case brought against the City of Norfolk alleging violations of FOIA's response times and fee estimates, a Norfolk Circuit Court gives much deference to FOIA Council prior opinions and finds:

  • the city waived its objection to the plaintiff's failure to file an affidavit of good cause by not bringing it up within 7 days of the plaintiff filing his petition;
  • the 5-day response time is not put on hold while the city asks the FOIA requester for clarification of his request;
  • the plaintiff's FOIA request met the reasonable specificity requirement for all requests;
  • the 5-day response time clock begins the day AFTER a FOIA request is received;
  • if a requester hasn't forwarded a deposit, a public body isn't obligated to forward responsive records;
  • a public body cannot cure its failure to respond within the 5-day response time by arguing its eventual response was within the 12 working days it would have gotten if it had asked for 7 working days within the 5 original working days;
  • declaratory relief is not an available remedy under FOIA; and
  • response-time failures are minor technical violations that "do not rise to a level warranting an award of costs."