ALEX FRIEDMANN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AN ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF PRISON LEGAL NEWS v. CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 1, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Joseph F. Welborn, III, and Jason W. Callen, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Corrections Corporation of America.

Attorneys 2:

Andrew C. Clarke, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Alex Friedmann, Individually and as Associate Editor of Prison Legal News.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

This is the second appeal in an action seeking settlement agreements and settlement reports from Corrections Corporation of America pursuant to the Public Records Act, Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7-301 et seq. In the first appeal, this court determined that CCA is the functional equivalent of a governmental entity in operating correctional facilities and remanded the action to the trial court to determine whether the documents requested by the petitioner fell within the statutory definition of public records set forth at Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7-301. On remand, CCA refused to turn over two categories of documents, settlement agreements and settlement reports, arising out of inmate litigation, arguing that they did not fall within the statutory definition of public records and are confidential. CCA additionally argued that the settlement reports are protected as attorney work product. The trial court held that both the settlement agreements and reports are public records, that the settlement reports do not constitute attorney work product, that CCA is required to produce the settlement agreements and reports, and that the petitioner is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7-505(g). We affirm the finding that the settlement agreements are public records and that CCA is required to produce the settlement agreements. We also affirm the trial court’s findings that the settlement reports are public records and that CCA has failed to demonstrate that the settlement reports were produced “in anticipation of litigation;” therefore, the reports are not attorney work product and CCA must produce the reports. Further, we affirm the award of attorney’s fees incurred at trial that pertained to requiring CCA to produce the settlement agreements. Finally, we find the petitioner is entitled to recover attorney’s fees and expenses incurred on appeal to the extent they pertain to the settlement agreements, but not the settlement reports. On remand, the trial court shall make the appropriate award.

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