Department of Corrections lawsuits/settlements (Department of Corrections)

Beryl Lipton filed this request with the Department of Corrections of Vermont .
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Communications

From: Beryl Lipton

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Vermont public records law (1 V.S.A. §§ 315-320), I hereby request the following records:

Copies of all reports, lists, or databases detailing the lawsuits, grievances, or other mediated conflicts in which this agency was listed as a party. This should include all such lawsuits and otherwise in which this agency was listed either as a plaintiff or a defendant in all instances through the end of 2015. This should also include all such lawsuits, settlements, and otherwise in which was named a party any representative of this agency, any individual acting in some capacity on behalf of this agency, or any company, corporation, or contractor providing services on behalf of this agency. Please include all available segregable data, including but not limited to the parties involved, the nature of the complaint, the date on which proceedings began, the date on which the resolution was reached, the nature of the resolution, the amount used to settle the conflict, any records related to associated legal fees incurred as part of the conflict, etc. This should include requests for funds used to cover settlement agreements, court costs, or other expenses related to lawsuits.

Further clarification can be provided upon request.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Beryl Lipton

From: Turner, David

Dear Ms. Lipton,

The Department of Corrections has received your request for records. Below is the Department’s initial response.

1. Copies of all reports, lists, or databases detailing the lawsuits, grievances, or other mediated conflicts in which this agency was listed as a party. This should include all such lawsuits and otherwise in which this agency was listed either as a plaintiff or a defendant in all instances through the end of 2015. This should also include all such lawsuits, settlements, and otherwise in which was named a party any representative of this agency, any individual acting in some capacity on behalf of this agency, or any company, corporation, or contractor providing services on behalf of this agency. Please include all available segregable data, including but not limited to the parties involved, the nature of the complaint, the date on which proceedings began, the date on which the resolution was reached, the nature of the resolution, the amount used to settle the conflict, any records related to associated legal fees incurred as part of the conflict, etc. This should include requests for funds used to cover settlement agreements, court costs, or other expenses related to lawsuits.

a. I have attached a copy of the CY2015 Grievance Statistic report. Your request did not specify a date range and if you would like the dates expanded please let me know and I will search for prior year’s reports

b. The Department of Corrections does not keep a database of lawsuits filed. We are provided a list from the Attorney General’s Office of lawsuits filed against the Department. This request is denied pursuant to 1 V.S.A. 317(c)(1). I certify that the provided lists are exempt as they are protected by the attorney-client privilege and the attorney work product doctrine.

i. Since this portion is being denied you should be aware that this denial may be appealed to the Commissioner of Corrections pursuant to 1 V.S.A. 318(c). The Commissioner of Corrections can be contacted at the following address:

Vermont Department of Corrections
NOB 2 South

280 State Drive

Waterbury, VT 05671-2000

c. In regards to the request for segregable data, parties involved, the nature of the complaint, date which proceedings began, date which the resolution was reached, nature of the resolution, amount used to settle the conflict, records related to associated legal fees incurred as part of the conflict and requests for funds used to cover settlement agreements, court costs, or other expenses related to lawsuits.

Although the Department does not have this information on any type of singular list, database, or spreadsheet in the manner in which you have requested it, there are likely documents contained within each case file that may be available that detail out part or all of this information. However, this would require a staff person, or persons, to go through each case file (which could include only a few or thousands of pages) looking for, reviewing, redacting, and copying the responsive documents. This could take thousands of hours of staff time. I have not put an estimate of the cost for this together, but can do so if you are interested in paying the fees associate with the Department’s compliance with your request. I will await your response prior to putting this estimate together.

d. Finally, regarding your request that the DOC waive any fees because your records request is motivated by a desire to serve the public interest, the Vermont Access to Public Records Act does not require that an agency consider a requester's motivation when determining whether to charge and collect the cost of providing a record and the cost of the staff time associated with complying with the request for a copy a public record. See 1 V.S.A. § 316. The DOC does not consider a requester's motive when charging and collecting the costs associated with a public records request.
David Turner
Policy Development and Offender Due Process Administrator
Vermont Department of Corrections
NOB 2 South
280 State Drive
Waterbury, VT 05671-2000

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