149.351 Prohibiting destruction or damage of records.

(A) All records are the property of the public office concerned and shall not be removed, destroyed, mutilated, transferred, or otherwise damaged or disposed of, in whole or in part, except as provided by law or under the rules adopted by the records commissions provided for under sections 149.38 to 149.42 of the Revised Code or under the records programs established by the boards of trustees of state-supported institutions of higher education under section 149.33 of the Revised Code. Those records shall be delivered by outgoing officials and employees to their successors and shall not be otherwise removed, destroyed, mutilated, or transferred unlawfully.

(B) Any person who is aggrieved by the removal, destruction, mutilation, or transfer of, or by other damage to or disposition of a record in violation of division (A) of this section, or by threat of such removal, destruction, mutilation, transfer, or other damage to or disposition of such a record, may commence either or both of the following in the court of common pleas of the county in which division (A) of this section allegedly was violated or is threatened to be violated:

(1) A civil action for injunctive relief to compel compliance with division (A) of this section, and to obtain an award of the reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the person in the civil action;

(2) A civil action to recover a forfeiture in the amount of one thousand dollars for each violation, but not to exceed a cumulative total of ten thousand dollars, regardless of the number of violations, and to obtain an award of the reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the person in the civil action not to exceed the forfeiture amount recovered.

(C)

(1) A person is not aggrieved by a violation of division (A) of this section if clear and convincing evidence shows that the request for a record was contrived as a pretext to create potential liability under this section. The commencement of a civil action under division (B) of this section waives any right under this chapter to decline to divulge the purpose for requesting the record, but only to the extent needed to evaluate whether the request was contrived as a pretext to create potential liability under this section.

(2) In a civil action under division (B) of this section, if clear and convincing evidence shows that the request for a record was a pretext to create potential liability under this section, the court may award reasonable attorney's fees to any defendant or defendants in the action.

(D) Once a person recovers a forfeiture in a civil action commenced under division (B)(2) of this section, no other person may recover a forfeiture under that division for a violation of division (A) of this section involving the same record, regardless of the number of persons aggrieved by a violation of division (A) of this section or the number of civil actions commenced under this section.

(E) A civil action for injunctive relief under division (B)(1) of this section or a civil action to recover a forfeiture under division (B)(2) of this section shall be commenced within five years after the day in which division (A) of this section was allegedly violated or was threatened to be violated.

Cite as R.C. § 149.351

History. Amended by 129th General AssemblyFile No.28, HB 153, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.

Effective Date: 07-01-1992