New Jersey Healthcare Blog

Just another WordPress site

COURT RULES THAT VOLUNTEER RESCUE SQUAD IS NOT SUBJECT TO OPRA

March 21, 2014 | No Comments
Posted by Ari G. Burd

GH&C Attorney Ari G. Burd prevailed on behalf of the Tabernacle Rescue Squad in the first ever Superior Court decision to consider the applicability of the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) to volunteer rescue squads.   In the matter Fran Brooks v. Tabernacle Rescue Squad, Docket No. L-002629-13, the Superior Court held that OPRA is not applicable to volunteer rescue squads, a decision that could affect both volunteer rescue squads and volunteer fire departments throughout the state of New Jersey.  The ruling is an important victory for nonprofit volunteer rescue squads, who would be significantly burdened if they were required to respond to costly, time-consuming OPRA requests despite having neither the funding nor manpower to respond.

The Plaintiff, a citizen of Tabernacle Township, served an OPRA request on the Rescue Squad seeking trip reports for every Rescue Squad ambulance and rescue truck for the time period January 1, 2013 through July 31, 2013.  The Rescue Squad rejected the request based on its position that it is not subject to OPRA.  The Plaintiff then filed an Order to Show Cause in Burlington County Superior Court before the Hon. Ronald E. Bookbinder, A.J.S.C.

The Plaintiff argued that because the Rescue Squad allegedly performed a governmental function and received a minority of its funding from Tabernacle Township, it should be subject to OPRA.  Citing an array of Supreme Court and Appellate Division decision, Mr. Burd argued on behalf of Tabernacle Rescue Squad that the Rescue Squad should not be subject to OPRA.  Noting that the nonprofit, all volunteer Rescue Squad was formed by private citizens, operated without any interference from the town and received the majority of its funding from non-municipal sources, Mr. Burd argued the Rescue Squad did not meet the definition of “public agency” as set forth in the OPRA statute.  Judge Bookbinder agreed, finding that as a matter of law, OPRA was not applicable to the Rescue Squad.

Comments

Leave a Reply





IE8 Web Slice Add Web Slice