Denver Post v. Stapleton Development was a case before Colorado Court of Appeals in 2000 concerning bids submitted to publicly funded non-profits.
This case established that private companies, created by a public body, functioning on a public bodies behalf and controlled in part by the public body are considered extensions of that body and are subject to open records requests.
- The management of Stapleton, a subdivision of the city and county of Denver, was assigned to the non-profit, Stapleton Development Corporation (SDC), by way of the city passing the Stapleton Development Plan. SDC was a private non-profit whose members were appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council and who functioned on the cities behalf by implementing the Stapleton Development Plan. However, the contract established that the employees of SDC were not city employees.
- The Denver Post submitted an open records requests for bids submitted to SDC by 4 private corporations for the redevelopment of the Stapleton International Airport.
- SDC rejected the request, first and foremost, because they are a non-profit and under Colorado law are protected from public records requests. However, SDC acknowledged that as part of its bylaws it had to make certain records open, in conformity with Colorado Open Records Act (CORA). It none-the-less asserted that the documents in question were exempt both under SDC's bylaws and CORA based on statute 24-72-204(3)(a)(IV), which exempted confidential commercial information. SDC offered to redact the exempted material, but SDC argued that after the redaction the records would be so depleted of information that the request would be moot.
- The Denver Post filed a suit and the trial court ruled in favor of the Denver Post ordering a majority of the documents released,
- SDC appealed the decision arguing that they should not be considered subject to CORA.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of the Denver Post, stating that SDC was subject to CORA and only permitting a small portion of the previously redacted material to remain exempt.
The court of appeals ruled in favor of the Denver Post ordering the documents released.
First and foremost, the court rejected SDC's argument that the case was moot. The court went on to argue that SDC was subject to CORA, citing Dawson v. State Compensation Insurance Authority and Zubeck v. El Paso County Retirement Plan, both of which established that the general intention of the legislator's with regard to the definition of public institution could be construed so as to include agencies that are not explicitly part of the definition. The court found that the liberal construction applied to SDC because it was created and managed by the city, and was functioning on behalf of the city.
- ↑ Ruling of the Court
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ruling of the Court