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ALFRED O. BREINIG v. DAVID H. MEYERS (04/13/87)

decided: April 13, 1987.

ALFRED O. BREINIG, JR., ESQUIRE, PETITIONER
v.
DAVID H. MEYERS, SUPERVISOR OF THE ESCHEATS SECTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, RESPONDENT



Appeal from an Order of the Department of Revenue, in case of Re: Escheat Records Access, dated April 17, 1985.

COUNSEL

Lisa Erich, with her, D. Donald Jamieson, Mesirov, Gelman, Jaffe, Cramer & Jamieson, for petitioner.

Gwendolyn T. Mosley, Deputy Attorney General, with her, Andrew S. Gordon, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Colins and Palladino, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish.

Author: Kalish

[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 251]

Petitioner, Alfred O. Breinig, Jr., Esquire, petitions for review of a denial by the Department of Revenue (Department) of his request to inspect the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's (Commonwealth) records of abandoned and unclaimed property maintained by the Department. We reverse.

By letter dated October 15, 1984, petitioner submitted a request to David H. Meyers, Supervisor of the Escheats Section of the Department, seeking to examine the records of escheated property of the Commonwealth. George R. Andersen, Assistant Chief Counsel for the Department, denied petitioner's request by letter

[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 252]

    dated October 31, 1984. On April 11, 1985, petitioner requested a reassessment of the Department's determination. Andersen responded that the Department does not make available individual escheat records to third parties, absent a client relationship. Petitioner requested further clarification of the denial, and Andersen again denied the request to examine the records.

Petitioner argues that pursuant to section 6 of the Right to Know Act, Act of June 21, 1957, P.L. 390, as amended, 65 P.S. § 66.6, the Department's record of abandoned and unclaimed property should be open for inspection by the general public, because they are public records.

We agree with petitioner that the records in question are public records. Section 2 of the Right to Know Act, 65 P.S. § 66.2, provides that "[e]very public record of an agency shall, at reasonable times, be open for examination and inspection by any citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." Public records are defined as:

     any account, voucher, or contract dealing with the receipt or disbursement of funds by an agency or its acquisition, use or disposal of services or of supplies, materials, equipment or other property, and any minute, order or decision by an agency fixing the personal or property rights, privileges, immunities, duties or obligations of any person or group of persons. . . .

Section 1(2) of the Right to Know Act, 65 P.S. § 66.1(2). However, there are exceptions. Under the Right to Know Act, the term public records does not include any report or paper which will disclose the institution, progress, or result of any investigations undertaken by any agency in the performance of ...


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