Colquhoun v. City of NashuaAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff Laura Colquhoun filed a complaint against defendant City of Nashua, after the City denied her Right-to-Know Law request for all email communications between two City employees during a specific two-month period. Plaintiff submitted a Right-to-Know Law request seeking access to “all email communications between Ms. Kleiner [the City’s Administrative Services Director] and Mr. Richard Vincent [the City’s Chief of Assessing] for the period of January 1, 2021 to March 1, 2021.” In its answer, the City asserted that a search of the email folders located on the computers of both named individuals was “likely to produce hundreds of pages of email communication between the two of them, the vast majority of them being duplicated at least once.” The City further explained that: (1) Vincent had begun employment with the City on approximately January 1, 2021; (2) Kleiner was his immediate supervisor; and (3) the Assessing Department “was in the midst of several projects which would have caused much communication between the two.” The City asserted that “emails that may be responsive to the request could be found in any of the approximately 29,000 files related to individual parcels assessed by the Department.” The City also argued “as a general matter, that Right-to-Know requests for ‘any and all’ documents are overbroad.” The court ordered the parties “to meet and confer within fourteen days and engage in a good faith effort to narrow and focus requests for the benefit of both the City and the requester.” (Citations and quotations omitted.) The court concluded by ordering the City “to conduct a reasonable search for responsive records in accordance with its burden under the Right-to-Know law.” The sole issue before the New Hampshire Supreme Court in this matter was whether the trial court erred by denying plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees relating to her request. Because the Supreme Court was satisfied the record demonstrated that the City knew or should have known that its blanket denial violated the Right-to-Know Law, the Court concluded the trial court erred when it denied the plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees and costs.