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Clinkscale v. Department of Public Welfare

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

October 6, 2014

Cecilia Clinkscale, Petitioner
v.
Department of Public Welfare, Respondent

Submitted July 18, 2014

Appealed from No. 2013-1992. Department of Public Welfare.

Cecilia Clinkscale, Pro se.

Marisa L. Cohan, Assistant Counsel, Harrisburg, for respondent.

BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Judge, HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge, HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, Judge.

OPINION

Page 138

ANNE E. COVEY, Judge

Cecilia Clinkscale (Requestor) petitions this Court, pro se, for review of the Office of Open Record's (OOR) November 19, 2013 Final Determination denying Requestor's

Page 139

appeal. The sole issue before this Court is whether the OOR erred in not disclosing a record exempt under Section 708 of the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL)[1] when it contained information personal to the Requestor. After review, we affirm.

On August 28, 2013, Requestor filed a request under the RTKL with the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) seeking access to her case file located in the Philadelphia County Assistance Office, West District (West District). On October 7, 2013, after DPW extended its deadline to respond pursuant to Section 902 of the RTKL, 65 P.S. § 67.902, it denied the request. DPW advised Requestor that the records are exempt from disclosure under Section 708(b)(28) of the RTKL, as records relating to the application or receipt of social services. DPW also informed Requestor that various state and federal laws prohibited release of the records, and an alternate route may be available to obtain those records. On October 23, 2013, Requestor appealed to the OOR. On November 19, 2013, the OOR denied Requestor's appeal. Requestor appealed to this Court.[2]

Initially, DPW maintains that this appeal is moot because Requestor obtained access to the requested records on September 16 and 26, 2013. We will address this issue first since it could be dispositive.

Our Supreme Court has explained that a case is moot if there is no actual case or controversy in existence at all stages of the controversy. Pap's A.M. v. City of Erie, . . . 571 Pa. 375, 812 A.2d 591, 599 (2002). In Mistich v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 863 A.2d 116, 119 (Pa.[]Cmwlth.[]2004), this Court summarized the requirements for an actual case or controversy as follows:
(1) a legal controversy that is real and not hypothetical, (2) a legal controversy that affects an individual in a concrete manner so as to provide the factual predicate for a reasoned adjudication, and (3) a legal controversy with sufficiently adverse parties so as to sharpen the issues for judicial resolution. A controversy must continue through all stages of judicial proceedings, trial and appellate, and the parties must continue to have a ...

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