Courts

Shenandoah Publishing House v. City of Winchester

Document given to city attorney by city manager is protected from mandatory disclosure as attorney-client privilege because it was prepared as part of an active administrative investigation in which legal advice was needed.

Lawrence v. Jenkins

Not an FOIA violation when a public official chooses to exercise an exemption, redacted exempt information, but failed to timely cite the applicable Code section for the exemption.

Food Lion Inc. v. Capital Cities/ABC Inc. (4th Cir. on media law)

Defendant reporters got jobs with Food Lion through misrepresentation and made a videotape, which was aired on ABC, of the store’s unwholesome food handling practices. (1) The court held that, since the reporters were at-will employees for an indefinite period, there was no reliance on their misrepresentations that would support a fraud claim. (2) However, since the reporters intended to act against the interests of plaintiff, they were liable in tort for employee disloyalty. (3) Their disloyalty rose to trespass, because it went beyond the consent Food Lion granted them to enter the store’s premises. (4) The final two charges could not be shown. ABC and its reporters were not guilty of unfair trade practices, since they did not harm the consuming public. (5) Food Lion could not claim damages to its reputation resulting from the broadcast since it did not allege actual malice on the part of the defendants.

Yeagle v. Collegiate Times (Va. Supreme Court on libel)

Yeagle, a college employee, filed a complaint against Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times, alleging defamation after the phrase . . .director of butt licking’ appeared under her name in an article. Her suit was dismissed, and the Court upheld that dismissal. As a matter of law, the phrase could not convey a defamatory meaning. It contained no factual information, but was instead a . . .disgusting’ bit of rhetorical hyperbole.

Town of Madison v. Ford

The Virginia Constitution requires that votes taken on all municipal ordinances must reflect how each member present voted.

Snyder v. Ringgold (4th Cir. on access to records)

Ringgold, a police official, restricted a reporter's access to police department information, after she aired a story about possible department corruption, by only communicating with her in writing and prohibiting her from any exclusive interviews with department personnel. The reporter brought a §1983 action, claiming that the restrictions violated her 1st 14th Amendment rights. After the reporter's summary judgment motion on liability was granted, Ringgold asserted the defense of qualified immunity in a summary judgment motion, which was denied by the district court. On appeal, the Court reversed the decision, holding that the rights involved were not sufficiently clear to deny Ringgold qualified immunity. Acting reasonably, Ringgold might not have understood that the reporter's rights would be violated by the restrictions placed on her. NOTE: This is an unpublished opinion, meaning it cannot be relied on as precedent.

Tull v. Brown

Tapes used to record 911 calls are public records, but they are exempt as noncriminal incident information.

Richmond Newspapers v. Casteen

Materials that would nonetheless be official records standing alone may become exempt correspondence if they are transmitted to a qualified office as a letter.

Capital Tours v. DMV

FOIA does not require the production of trade secrets or proprietary information.

Shenandoah Publishing House v. Warren County School Board

An injunction is proper where a school board enters into any contract, which was discussed during a closed executive session conducted pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and whose effective date is before the date on which the school board reconvenes in open session and formally approves the contract.

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