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WDSI, Inc. v. County of Steele

December 30, 2003

WDSI, INC., A WISCONSIN CORPORATION, RESPONDENT,
v.
THE COUNTY OF STEELE, APPELLANT.



Steele County District Court File No. C4-02-1285

Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Schumacher, Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. For purposes of Minn. Stat. § 13.05, subd. 11 (2002), a subdivision of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, constructing a jail, including developing qualifications and requirements for the bidding process, is a governmental function.

2. If a private party fails to comply with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, which provides that a private party under contract with a governmental entity to perform governmental functions has a duty to provide the public with governmental data, the remedy is against the private party.

3. The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act does not provide that a governmental entity has a duty to obtain governmental data from a private person with whom it has contracted to perform governmental functions.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

OPINION

Steele County appeals from summary judgment requiring it to obtain data from a private entity under contract with the county and to submit that data to respondent WDSI. Steele County argues that (1) the district court erred in concluding that the county has a duty under section 13.05 of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) to produce governmental data held solely by a private entity; (2) the district court abused its discretion by granting respondent a protective order; and (3) the district court abused its discretion in denying the county's motion for attorney fees in connection with respondent's claim under section 13.08 of the MGDPA. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

FACTS

Appellant Steele County contracted with Korsunsky Krank Erickson Architects, Inc. (KKE), to provide architectural services for the construction of the new Steele County Detention Center. Respondent WDSI wished to bid on the installation of correctional facility detention systems, but felt it was excluded by the prequalification bid requirements.

WDSI contacted Steele County and requested, among other things, that Steele County provide information on how the prequalification standards were determined, how the specifications were relevant to quality assurance, and the qualifications of other bidders on the detention center job. The Steele County Attorney told WDSI to contact KKE. When WDSI did so, KKE stated, "KKE does have a contract with Steele County relating to the Detention Center, but that contract does not convert KKE's files into government data."

WDSI made a request under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) to the county to obtain the data from KKE. When the county did not comply with the request, WDSI sued the county, alleging that the county willfully failed to comply with the MGDPA. WDSI sought an award of its costs, disbursements, and attorney fees, as well as an injunction to compel Steele County to produce all relevant government data. When Steele County served interrogatories and a request for production of reports, documents, and statements, WDSI moved for a protective order, alleging that the requested discovery was irrelevant and burdensome or premature.

WDSI and Steele County made cross-motions for summary judgment. Both parties requested attorney fees. The district court (1) granted WDSI's motion for summary judgment, (2) ordered Steele County to produce the data within thirty days, (3) denied both parties' request for attorney fees, and (4) found that WDSI had withdrawn its request for damages, and therefore ...


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