3) Action for enforcement

Topic Progress:

If a person requesting public records receives no response from the records custodian, including a written denial, he or she may initiate an action to enforce the provisions of IPRA and the requester may be awarded damages. Damages shall (a) be awarded if the failure to provide a timely explanation of denial is determined to be unreasonable; (b) not exceed $100 per day; (c) accrue from the day the public body is in noncompliance until a written denial is issued; and (d) be payable from the funds of the public body. NMSA 1978 § 14-2-11-C


An action to enforce IPRA may be brought by the Attorney General or the district attorney in the county of jurisdiction or by a person whose written request has been denied. A district court may issue a writ of mandamus or order an injunction or other appropriate remedy to enforce IPRA. NMSA 1978 § 14-2-12-A


The court hearing an action for IPRA enforcement shall award damages, costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees to any person whose written request has been denied and is successful in a court action. The New Mexico Supreme Court recently held that when an IPRA request is wrongfully denied, the requester must prove actual damages. If instead, the records custodian ignores the IPRA request or does not issue a denial letter, the requester can be awarded statutory damages. Faber v. King, 2015 NMSC-015

Note that damages, attorney fees and other remedies under this section of the Act only are available when the requester files a written, not verbal, IPRA request.