Bisio v. City of the Village of Clarkson (Opinion on Application)Annotate this Case
Susan Bisio sued the City of the Village of Clarkston for allegedly violating the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Bisio filed a FOIA request with Clarkston seeking documents related to city business, including correspondence between Clarkston’s city attorney and a consulting firm concerning a development project and vacant property in the city. Clarkston denied Bisio’s request with regard to certain documents in the city attorney’s file. The city attorney, a private attorney who contracted with the city to serve as its city attorney, claimed that the requested documents were not “public records” as defined by MCL 15.232(i). The city attorney reasoned that he was not a “public body,” as defined by MCL 15.232(h), and because the requested documents were never in the possession of the city, which was a public body, the requested documents were not public records subject to a FOIA request. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Clarkston, concluding that the documents at issue were not public records because there was no evidence to show that Clarkston had used or retained them in the performance of an official function or that the city attorney had shared the documents with Clarkston to assist the city in making any decisions. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, finding the city attorney was merely an agent of Clarkston and the definition of “public body” in MCL 15.232(h) did not encompass an agent of a public body. After its review, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed, finding the documents at issue did satisfy the statutory definition of "public records."