Withholding Text Messages Under FOIA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. City of Norfolk

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals requested certain text messages between Norfolk city council members under the Freedom of Information Act.  The city responded that they do not preserve text messages.  On January 9, 2014, we filed suit against the city under FOIA on PETA’s behalf, arguing that FOIA requires the city to produce all records created in the course of public businesses, and that text messages are “public records” under FOIA.  We appeared in court on May 29, 2014 to present argument.  The City of Norfolk submitted a motion to dismiss the case, which was denied.  On January 9, the court entered a consent decree ordering Norfolk to treat text messages as public records and pay $18,000 in attorney’s fees.


Rebecca Glenberg, Hope Amezquita, ACLU of Virginia

Date filed

January 9, 2014


Circuit Court, Norfolk City