Court of Appeals Revisits the Role of Subcontractors under the MGDPA

23 Jul

On July 10, the Associated Press previewed an oral argument that took place before the Minnesota Court of Appeals on July 11, pertaining to a case between The Timberjay, a newspaper based in Ely, Minnesota, and Johnson Controls, Inc. The newspaper is seeking a copy of a subcontract Johnson Controls made with Architectural Resources, Inc., a Minnesota architectural and engineering firm. The crux of the case is whether a portion of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minn. Stat. 13.05 subd. 11, applies to the subcontract in question. The statute provides, in part:

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“If a government entity enters into a contract with a private person to perform any of its functions, the government entity shall include in the contract terms that make it clear that all of the data created, collected, received, stored, used, maintained, or disseminated by the private person in performing those functions is subject to the requirements of this chapter and that the private person must comply with those requirements as if it were a government entity.”

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An initial administrative hearing resulted in a victory for Johnson, but the decision was subsequently reversed by a chief administrative law judge. The matter was then appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. For more background on the case, see this excellent 2011 entry in Media Law Minnesota.

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