Justia Non-Profit Corporations Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia recently ruled on a case involving the nonprofit organization Tax Analysts and Matthew Irby, the West Virginia State Tax Commissioner. Tax Analysts requested copies of field audit and audit training manuals from the West Virginia State Tax Department under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Department denied the request, citing a statutory exemption protecting certain tax-related documents. Tax Analysts then filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to prevent the Department from withholding the requested documents.The Circuit Court of Kanawha County ruled in favor of the Department and dismissed the case, accepting the Department's argument that the documents were statutorily protected by the asserted FOIA disclosure exemption. However, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia reversed this decision, concluding that the circuit court erred by not requiring the Department to present detailed justifications, known as a Vaughn index and an affidavit, as to why each document or part of it was exempt from disclosure under the FOIA.The court remanded the case with instructions for the circuit court to require the Department to file a Vaughn index and an affidavit explaining why disclosure of the documents would be harmful and why they should be exempt. The court concluded that the Department had not met its burden of showing the express applicability of the claimed exemption to the material requested. View "Tax Analysts v. Irby" on Justia Law