Public bodies should be aware of an unreported appellate court case holding that a public body could not impose fees in response to a FOIA request where the public body did not respond to the request in a timely manner. Varan v. White.
Varan had filed a FOIA request with the Secretary of State’s office for various records. The state did not respond to the request until six months later, and informed Varan that he had to pay $19,711.55 for the requested records, which was calculated based on a $25 charge per record. Varan sued, and both the trial and appellate courts ruled in Varan’s favor, finding that section 3(d) of FOIA expressly prohibits a public body from imposing a fee when it fails to respond to a FOIA request within the statutory time frames.