Whether animal certification records kept pursuant to a Federal law by a research facility of the State University of New York (SUNY) are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
Yes. The SUNY research facility is an agency under FOIL and rights under FOIL are not limited by the purpose for which the agency kept the records.
Petitioners requested animal certification records from the SUNY Heath Science Center at Brooklyn (HSC-B). HSC-B is required under the Federal Animal Welfare Act (7 USC §§ 2131-2159) to maintain original certification records on "random source" research animals purchased from dealers. The certifications must contain data, including the name and address of the person or shelter from which the animal was purchased, and an assurance that such person or entity was notified that the acquired animal may be used for research or educational purposes (7 USC § 2158[b]). Petitioners' request for the records was denied by HSC-B. Petitioners filed, and lost, an administrative appeal. Petitioners next commenced a CPLR Article 78 proceeding. The Supreme Court granted the petition and directed respondents to provide the requested documents. The Appellate Division reversed because it held the HSC-B was not an agency under FOIL when the purpose for its maintaining the records was pursuant to a Federal mandate, only to be reversed, in turn, by the Court of Appeals.
Prepared by the liibulletin-ny Editorial Board.