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Sloan v. South Carolina Department of Revenue

Supreme Court of South Carolina

August 20, 2014

Edward D. Sloan, Jr., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, and South Carolina Public Interest Foundation, Appellants,
v.
South Carolina Department of Revenue and James F. Etter, its Director, Respondents Appellate Case No. 2013-000577.

Heard May 20, 2014

Appeal from Richland County. G. Thomas Cooper, Jr., Circuit Court Judge.

James G. Carpenter and Jennifer J. Miller, of Carpenter Law Firm, PC, of Greenville, for Appellants.

Milton G. Kimpson, Adam N. Marinelli, and Harry T. Cooper, Jr., of Columbia, for Respondents.

JUSTICE KITTREDGE. TOAL, C.J., and BEATTY, J., concur. PLEICONES, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part in a separate opinion in which HEARN, J., concurs.

OPINION

[409 S.C. 552] KITTREDGE, JUSTICE:

After the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) failed to produce public documents requested by Appellant Edward D. Sloan, Jr., Sloan [1] filed this Freedom of Information Act [2] (FOIA) action against DOR and its director, James F. Etter, seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees and costs. After suit was filed, DOR produced the requested information and asserted that Sloan's action was mooted and should be dismissed. The trial court agreed with DOR and dismissed the complaint, denying all relief. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs to Sloan.

I.

On November 19, 2012, Sloan sent a FOIA request to DOR, seeking specific documents related to the procurement process through which DOR retained a computer security company in response to a cyber-attack on DOR databases.

Page 688

DOR responded to Sloan by letter on December 10, 2012:

The South Carolina Department of Revenue has received your Freedom of Information request dated November 19, [409 S.C. 553] 2012. Your request is currently being researched and reviewed. As soon as the information has been compiled, you will be contacted again and the requested information will be sent to you.
If we are unable to locate, obtain or release the requested file(s) you will be notified of the decision and the reasons for it.

" The purpose of FOIA is to protect the public by providing a mechanism for the disclosure of information by public bodies." Sloan v. Friends of the Hunley, Inc. ( Friends I ), 369 S.C. 20, 26, 630 S.E.2d 474, 478 (2006) (citing Bellamy v. Brown, 305 S.C. 291, ...


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