Anchorage School District v. Anchorage Daily News was a case before the Alaska Supreme Court in 1989 concerning open records lawsuits.
Any confidentiality clause within a settlement of which the state is a party is unenforceable because it violates the Alaska Public Records Act.
- In 1985 The Anchorage School District was involved in a lawsuit in order to recover losses for the replacement of faulty fireproofing. In 1988 the Anchorage Daily News learned that the school district had settled the suit out of court. The newspaper submitted a public record request for the settlement documents.
- The School District denied the request, claiming that the document was exempt because it contained a non-disclosure clause as a part of the settlement.
- The newspaper filed suit, seeking to compel the release of the documents. On December 13, 1988 the trial court ruled in favor of the newspapers, ordering the documents released.
- The School District appealed the decision.
- Pending the appeal, W.R. Grace & Co., the other party to the settlement, filed a motion in federal district court requesting the documents to remain sealed. On January 20, 1989, the federal court sealed the documents, with no knowledge of the pending appeal in state court.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of the newspapers, ordering the settlement documents released.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court but held the enforcement of the order until the ruling of the federal court was appealed.
The Supreme Court felt that the strong policy of disclosure within Alaska law greatly outweighs the cities interest in being able to settle. The court thus held that any confidentiality clause within a settlement of which the state is a party is unenforceable because it violates the Alaska Public Records Act. However, the court felt compelled by jurisdictional policy, to stay the order to release until the federal court had modified its order.
- Ruling of the Court(Search by party name for "Anchorage School District" and "Anchorage Daily News")