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Michigan Mental Patient Properly Denied Documents Under FOIA for Failure to Establish Indigence

Roger Kearney, III, a Michigan state mental patient, sought copies of his treatment records without having to pay copying fees, pursuant to the state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Mich. Comp. Laws § 15.231 et seq. (Mich. Stat. Ann. § 4.1801(1) et seq.). The mental health facility refused because Kearney hadn’t provided it with an affidavit of indigence. A state trial court dismissed Kearney’s suit to compel disclosure, and he appealed.

On appeal, the Michigan Court of Appeals recognized that the FOIA authorized the facility to deny requests for records without having to pay copying fees if the requestor doesn’t provide an affidavit of indigence. On that basis, the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the case. See: Kearney v. Mich. Dept. of Mental Health, 168 Mich.App. 406; 425 N.W.2d 161 (1988).

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Related legal case

Kearney v. Mich. Dept. of Mental Health