Public Records / Electronic Records

In this case, the appellate court affirmed a trial court’s ruling that a public hospital had violated the Public Records Act by unreasonably restricting the appellee’s access to public records. In response to the appellee’s public record request, the hospital referred him to a website, limited his inspection time to a single hour on weekday mornings and also imposed a 24-hour notice requirement. The appellate court noted that although records can be accessed electronically, such access is “merely an additional means of inspecting or copying public records,” and found that electronic access was insufficient when the appellee specifically requested paper copies. The court also found that it was improper for the hospital to restrict the appellee’s access to a one-hour time frame, which hampered his right to inspect the requested records and, further, that the hospital had no authority to impose a 24-hour notice requirement. The Florida Legislature and courts continue to grapple with how to handle records requests, both public and private, in light of the electronic age, and we expect changes to Florida law in the coming months. If you would like to review the appellate decision, please follow this link: Lake Shore Hospital v. Lilker, (Fla. 1st DCA July 8, 2015).