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Texasfile, LLC v. Boevers

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division IV

August 29, 2018

TEXASFILE, LLC, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
JEANNIE BOEVERS, IN HER CAPACITY AS KINGFISHER COUNTY CLERK, Defendant/Appellee, and LORI FULKS, IN HER CAPACITY AS GARVIN COUNTY CLERK, Intervenor/Appellee.

          Mandate Issued: 03/27/2019

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF KINGFISHER COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE ROBERT E. DAVIS, TRIAL JUDGE

          William K. Elias, Wyatt D. Swinford, ELIAS, BOOKS, BROWN, & NELSON, P.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and

          Henry J. Hood, HENRY J. HOOD, PLLC, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellant

          Mike Fields, KINGFISHER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, John M. Salmon, Eric Epplin, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Kingfisher, Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellee

          Randall J. Wood, April D. Kelso, PIERCE COUCH HENDRICKSON, BAYSINGER & GREEN, L.L.P., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and

          Greg Mashburn, GARVIN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Carol Price Dillingham, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Norman, Oklahoma, for Intervenor/Appellee

          KEITH RAPP, JUDGE

         ¶1 Trial court plaintiff, TexasFile, LLC, (TexasFile) appeals the trial court's Journal Entry of Judgment denying the summary judgment motion of TexasFile and granting summary judgment in favor of defendant, Jeannie Boevers, in her capacity as Kingfisher County Clerk, and Intervenor, Lori Fulks, in her capacity as Garvin County Clerk. This accelerated appeal proceeds pursuant to Okla.Sup.Ct.R. 1.36(c), 12 O.S.Supp. 2017, ch. 15, app. 1.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 TexasFile is a company that provides remote access to images of county land records to its subscribers via the Internet. TexasFile does business in Texas, New Mexico and a few counties in Oklahoma. TexasFile has contracts with officials from Blaine County, Logan County, Oklahoma County, and Grady County to receive digital land records for its business. TexasFile receives copies of available digital land records and allows their subscribers to access the images of these public land records.

         ¶3 On May 6, 2016, TexasFile requested, pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Records Act, a "complete electronic copy of all the Kingfisher County land records that are currently available in electronic format." TexasFile did not request the associated tract index. TexasFile specifically requested all records that were currently available on OKcountyrecords.com. TexasFile also requested the fee and timeline for providing the requested scanned records in electronic form. The County Clerk of Kingfisher County did not respond to the May 6, 2016, request.

         ¶4 TexasFile made a second request for the electronic copy of the land records on January 11, 2017. TexasFile also acknowledged they had recently made similar requests to Oklahoma, Blaine, and Logan Counties and those counties had complied with the requests. TexasFile had entered into a formal agreement to receive electronic copies of the land records with each of those counties.

         ¶5 On May 15, 2017, Jeannie Boevers, as County Clerk of Kingfisher County, responded to TexasFile's request per the Oklahoma Open Records Act and denied TexasFile's request. Boevers explained:

This is to inform you that your request does not fall within the provisions of the Act as interpreted by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in County Records, Inc. v. Armstrong, 2012 OK 60, 299 P.3d 865. Neither the tract index nor the data (land records) inextricably linked to the computer software can be provided for resale. Commercial use or dissemination of these records is prohibited. You are welcome to come to my office like all other persons to inspect and copy documents.

         ¶6 TexasFile filed this declaratory judgment and mandamus action against Jeannie Boevers in her capacity as County Clerk of Kingfisher County asking the trial court to enter an order determining TexasLink was entitled to an electronic copy of the Kingfisher County public land records maintained by the County Clerk, pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Records Act, and compelling the County Clerk of Kingfisher County to make ...


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