W.D.Wash.: State’s response to a public records request wasn’t a search of plaintiff’s records

The state’s responding to a legitimate public records request under state law did not conduct a Fourth Amendment search of plaintiff’s records that came within its purview. Dalessio v. Univ. of Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21907 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 11, 2019):

Additionally, the Court notes that Plaintiff cites no legal authority for the proposition that a University employee, accessing the files of a former employee in response to a valid records request, is engaging in conduct which implicates an unreasonable “search and seizure” under the Fourth Amendment. Even more intrusive records searches (e.g., into the text messages on a work phone) have been found non-violative of the Fourth Amendment. “The search was justified at its inception because there were ‘reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search [was] necessary for a noninvestigatory work-related purpose.'” City of Ontario v. Quon, 560 U.S. 746, 761, 130 S. Ct. 2619, 177 L. Ed. 2d 216 (2010) (internal citation omitted). It is the finding of this Court that responding to a legitimate PRA request falls into the category of a legitimate “noninvestigatory work-related purpose” and that Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights have not been violated by Defendants’ conduct.

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