Freedom Foundation (Foundation) made a public records request
to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)
seeking the times and locations of contracting appointments
and training presentations for individual providers (IPs),
who provide personal care services to functionally disabled
persons. SEIU 775, the union that represents the IPs, sought
preliminary and permanent injunctions preventing DSHS from
disclosing the requested information.
appeals the trial court's denial of its request for an
injunction. SEIU argues that provisions of the Public
Employees Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA), chapter 41.56
RCW, provide an "other statute" exemption to the
Public Records Act (PRA) under RCW 42.56.070(1) because
DSHS's disclosure of the records to the Foundation would
constitute an unfair labor practice in violation of the
that the PECBA does not provide an "other statute"
exemption under the PRA because it does not expressly
prohibit or exempt the release of specific records or
information. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's
denial of SEIU's request for an injunction to prevent
DSHS from disclosing the records the Foundation requested.
the collective bargaining representative in Washington for
all IPs. The Foundation is a Washington-based organization
with a stated purpose of educating public employees,
including IPs, about their constitutional right not to join
or pay dues to public sector unions.
requires IPs to attend contracting appointments and safety
and orientation training presentations. These meetings
generally take place at DSHS facilities and are not open to
the public. Under the collective bargaining agreement between
SEIU and the State, the State provides time during these
meetings for an SEIU representative to meet with the IPs.
January 12, 2016, the Foundation submitted a public records
request to DSHS for certain information about meetings
involving IPs. The request specifically sought "[t]he
times and locations of all contracting appointments for
individual providers" and "[t]he times and
locations of any state-sponsored or facilitated opportunities
for individual providers to view the initial safety and
orientation training videos . . . held or to be held between
November 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016." Clerk's
Papers at 95.
determined that it had responsive records and that the
records were not subject to any exemptions preventing
disclosure. DSHS notified SEIU of its intent to release the
requested records to the Foundation.
filed suit for declaratory and injunctive relief, and then
filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin DSHS
from releasing the records. SEIU argued that the records were
subject to an "other statute" exemption under the
PRA, asserting that the PECBA is a statute that prohibits the
disclosure of the requested records. SEIU believed, based on
the Foundation's previous actions, that the Foundation
sought the information about the IPs' meetings in order
to show up at the meeting times and discourage the IPs from
participating in the union.
to CR 65(a)(2), the trial court consolidated the hearing on
SERTs preliminary injunction motion with a hearing on a
permanent injunction. The court denied injunctive relief,
ruling that SERJ failed to satisfy its burden of showing that
an exemption to the PRA applied. The trial court exercised
its equitable powers to restrain DSHS from releasing the
records for 14 days, in order to allow SERJ to file an
appealed the trial court's denial of a preliminary and
permanent injunction. We subsequently enjoined DSHS from
releasing the requested information until resolution of SERTs
mandates the broad disclosure of public records. John Doe
A v. Wash. State Patrol, 185 Wn.2d 363, 371, 374 P.3d 63
(2016). Therefore, a state agency has an affirmative
obligation to disclose records requested under the PRA unless
a specific exemption applies. Id. at 371-72. And we
must liberally construe the PRA in favor of disclosure and
narrowly construe its exemptions. RCW 42.56.030; Wash.
State Patrol, 185 Wn.2d at 371.
the PRA encourages openness and transparency, the legislature
has made certain records exempt from disclosure. Wash.
State Patrol, 185 Wn.2d at 371. There are three sources
of PRA exemptions: (1) enumerated exemptions contained in the
PRA itself, (2) any "other statute" that exempts or
prohibits disclosure as provided in RCW 42.56.070(1), and (3)
the Washington Constitution. White v. Clark County,188 Wn.App. 622, 630-31, 354 P.3d 38 (2015), review
denied,185 Wn.2d 1009 (2016). The party seeking to
prevent disclosure of requested records has the burden of
establishing that an exemption ...