State of Louisiana v. Nicholls College Foundation or Guste v. Nicholls College Foundation was a case before the Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal in 1992 concerning the definition of a public agency.
This case established that a private corporation must both receive public funds and act in a public capacity in order to be considered a public entity, all of whose records are subject to request.
This case also established that separate spending records highlighting the use of state funds and non-state funds was sufficient to protect the records of non-state funds from public records requests.
- This case centers on a request for documents made under the Louisiana Public Records Act from the Nicholls College FOundation, a non-profit organization associated with Nicholls College.
- The Foundation rejected the request claiming that they were a non-profit and thus not subject to public records request.
- The state attorney general filed suit, seeking to compel the foundation to release the documents. The issue of the separation of the spending of state funds from non-state funds was addressed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, and the court remanded the decision to the trial court.
- On remand, the trial court ruled in favor of the Foundation, arguing that as a non-profit, they were not subject to the act.
- The decision was appealed.
Ruling of the court
The Supreme Court established in this case that the separation of spending records for state money and non-state money was an effective method for protecting the records of non-profit corporations from unreasonable release. The court remanded the case based on this ruling.
The trial court ruled in favor of the foundation, declaring that, as a non-profit, they were not subject to the Louisiana Public Records Act. The court went on to hold that the only records accessible as a records request were the records of the spending of public funds administered to the non-profit as grants. The trial court went on to establish that all the costs of the case rested on the state.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court, determining that the Foundation was not a public body.
The Court of Appeals rejected the state's contention that the receipt of public funds was sufficient to establish the organization as a public body. The court went on to establish that the state must establish that the organization not only received public funds but acted as an instrumentality of the state. Further, as the Supreme Court had already established that separate spending records restricted access to only state spending records, the court felt the trial court was perfectly in line to restrict access to the Foundation's records. Based on these facts, and rulings, the court affirmed the decision of the trial court with regard to the records in question. However, the Court of Appeals rejected the trial courts decision to award full costs and instead split the costs of the case between the two parties.