Legal Services Public Records

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Mansfield Township (Warren) should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Mansfield Township (Warren),

This is a request for public records made under OPRA and the common law right of access. I am not required to fill out an official form. Please acknowledge receipt of this message.

Records requested:

(1) FOR LEGAL SERVICES ONLY: All contracts, invoices, records of payment, and legal bills including detail billing from December 1, 2020 to the present.

Please provide all responses via electronic files and this website (OPRAMachine.com).

Thank you
Bill Sosis

Dena Hrebenak, Mansfield Township (Warren)

I would like to request an extension of two weeks to provide this request.

Dena Hrebenak, RMC, CMR

Township of Mansfield

100 Port Murray Road

Port Murray, NJ 07865

(908) 689-6151 x 128

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From: William Sosis <[OPRA #25898 email]>
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2021 4:57 PM
To: Dena Hrebenak <[Mansfield Township (Warren) request email]>
Subject: OPRA request - Legal Services Public Records
 
Dear Mansfield Township (Warren),

This is a request for public records made under OPRA and the common law
right of access. I am not required to fill out an official form. Please
acknowledge receipt of this message.

Records requested:

(1) FOR LEGAL SERVICES ONLY: All contracts, invoices, records of payment,
and legal bills including detail billing from December 1, 2020 to the
present.

Please provide all responses via electronic files and this website
(OPRAMachine.com).

Thank you
Bill Sosis

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The records are due on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. I would normally agree to an extension but, as you know, there is pending litigation that relates to these public records. As such the records are time-sensitive and I can only consent to an extension until Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. Also, please note that "If a custodian cannot provide immediate access to records for a legitimate reason, the custodian must reduce such reason to writing and request an extension of time to comply with the immediate statutory requirement." See: https://www.nj.gov/grc/public/faqs/ Your response provides no reason for an extension and was sent 48 hours prior to the due date of Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

Dena Hrebenak, Mansfield Township (Warren)

5 Attachments

Mr. Sosis,
Please see the excerpt below from the Government Records Council Rules for
redaction.
9) Any record within the attorney-client privilege. This paragraph does
not allow for a denial of attorney invoices in their totality; however,
redactions may apply for information contained in the invoices that are
protected under the privilege.
Part of your request includes invoicing for legal services and there are
items that need to be reviewed and redacted which is why I have requested
an extension.
I have attached the contracts for all legal services that have contracted
through the Township.

Dena Hrebenak, RMC, CMR

Township of Mansfield

100 Port Murray Road

Port Murray, NJ 07865

(908) 689-6151 x 128

══════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════

From: William Sosis <[OPRA #25898 email]>
Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2021 10:35 AM
To: Dena Hrebenak <[Mansfield Township (Warren) request email]>
Subject: Re: OPRA request - Legal Services Public Records
 
The records are due on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. I would normally agree to
an extension but, as you know, there is pending litigation that relates to
these public records. As such the records are time-sensitive and I can
only consent to an extension until Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.  Also, please
note that "If a custodian cannot provide immediate access to records for a
legitimate reason, the custodian must reduce such reason to writing and
request an extension of time to comply with the immediate statutory
requirement." See: [1]https://www.nj.gov/grc/public/faqs/  Your response
provides no reason for an extension and was sent 48 hours prior to the due
date of Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

show quoted sections

You included 5 contracts but the records request specifically also asks for "invoices, records of payment, and legal bills including detail billing from December 1, 2020 to the present." All of these records are noticeably missing. In addition, your response fails to include any public records relating to Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor, LLC, the law firm currently representing you in "Sosis v. Mansfield Township Committee, et al." (Docket #: WRN L-000298-21). Please provide:

(1) the invoices, records of payment, and legal bills including detail billing from December 1, 2020 to the present for the law firm Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor, LLC.

(2) The earliest date when the qualifying redactions can be completed on the outstanding public records.

Regarding my public records request made on September 14, 2021: The Attorney Client Privilege exemption is limited to the course of an attorney-client relationship. It is meant to protect attorney-client communications which, if disclosed, could jeopardize the legal position of the client. After a legal matter is concluded, the privilege remains with the client; not the lawyer. A client can decide to waive or forfeit the privilege anytime it chooses. Here, the "client" is the Township of Mansfield, a municipality under a duty to disclose public records. Further, even if the Attorney Client Privilege applies, the requested records are not automatically exempted from disclosure. See Diaz v. City of Perth Amboy, GRC Complaint No. 2007-53 (February 2008)(available at: https://www.nj.gov/grc/decisions/pdf/200...)

OPRA further provides that:

“[i]f the custodian of a government record asserts that part of a particular record is exempt from public access pursuant to [OPRA] as amended and supplemented, the custodian shall delete or excise from a copy of the record that portion which the custodian asserts is exempt from access and shall promptly permit access to the remainder of the record.” N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5.g." Ibid.

In contrast, you have not made any redactions and only provided me with an incomplete response on September 22, 2021, at the end of the statutory period. Please provide the withheld records no later than Friday, September 24, 2021.

Furthermore, I believe that you are withholding the requested records for an unlawful purpose. Access to public records is an additional discovery mechanism. The fact that I am the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Township of Mansfield does not affect my right to request records under OPRA. There are several New Jersey cases supporting a litigant's access to government records under OPRA and the common law right of access. Even inferior authorities such as the GRC support these decisions. Denying records on the basis of attorney-client privilege or the advisory, consultative, or deliberative exception to disclosure does not apply to my records request nor the period over which said records were created. Again, please provide the requested records no later than Friday, September 24, 2021.

Dena Hrebenak, Mansfield Township (Warren)

Mr. Sosis,
In reference to your most recent request for legal contract and billing
for the law firm of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt, Cappelli, Tipton &
Taylor, LLC this firm is retained by the Township's Insurance Company and
I forwarded your OPRA request to them for the records.  Please see below
the response that was received.
"You received a OPRA request from a plaintiff against the Township for
copies of the legal bills which is the subject of plaintiff’s litigation.
Please be advised that the carrier has retained the defense firm to
represent the township and legal bills are remitted to the carrier and
paid by the carrier. The insurance company is not subject to produce this
information under an OPRA notice."

Dena Hrebenak, RMC, CMR

Township of Mansfield

100 Port Murray Road

Port Murray, NJ 07865

(908) 689-6151 x 128

══════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════

From: William Sosis <[OPRA #25898 email]>
Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 11:29 AM
To: Dena Hrebenak <[Mansfield Township (Warren) request email]>
Subject: Re: OPRA request - Legal Services Public Records
 
You included 5 contracts but the records request specifically also asks
for "invoices, records of payment, and legal bills including detail
billing from December 1, 2020 to the present." All of these records are
noticeably missing. In addition, your response fails to include any public
records relating to Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor,
LLC, the law firm currently representing you in "Sosis v. Mansfield
Township Committee, et al." (Docket #: WRN L-000298-21). Please provide:

(1) the invoices, records of payment, and legal bills including detail
billing from December 1, 2020 to the present for the law firm Florio
Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor, LLC.

(2) The earliest date when the qualifying redactions can be completed on
the outstanding public records.

show quoted sections

Dena Hrebenak <[email address]> Thu, Sep 23, 2021 at 10:26 AM
To: Bill Sosis <[email address]>
Mr. Sosis,

In reference to your most recent request for legal contract and billing for the law firm of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt, Cappelli, Tipton & Taylor, LLC this firm is retained by the Township's Insurance Company and I forwarded your OPRA request to them for the records. Please see below the response that was received.

"You received a OPRA request from a plaintiff against the Township for copies of the legal bills which is the subject of plaintiff’s litigation. Please be advised that the carrier has retained the defense firm to represent the township and legal bills are remitted to the carrier and paid by the carrier. The insurance company is not subject to produce this information under an OPRA notice."

Dena Hrebenak, RMC, CMR
Township of Mansfield
100 Port Murray Road
Port Murray, NJ 07865
(908) 689-6151 x 128

Please stop stonewalling my request for public records. Your town attorney (Michael Lavery) knows the law and should be advising you accordingly. This is NOT a "most recent request for legal contract and billing for the law firm of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt, Cappelli, Tipton & Taylor, LLC." This request is included as part of my original OPRA request.

Regarding your contention that the insurance company is not subject to produce information under an OPRA notice, please know that OPRA defines "custodian of a government record" as the official designated by formal action of a public agency's director or governing body that has custody or control of the government records of the public agency. As such, custodians must, by law, obtain records responsive to requests for attorney's bills which are maintained by any third party from appropriate departments/personnel. THIS INCLUDES THIRD PARTIES. See https://www.nj.gov/grc/custodians/faqs/#9

Please provide the name of the Township's Insurance Company.

The following public records requests are overdue:

Legal Services Public Records,
Submitted: September 14, 2021
Due: September 23, 2021

Litigation Settlement Agreements
Submitted: September 15, 2021
Due: September 24, 2021

Public Records Created on Wednesday
Submitte: September 22, 2021
Due: October 01, 2021
https://opramachine.com/request/public_r...