Rsa 91-A New Hampshire Right to Know Request
In Mans v. Lebanon Sch. Bd., 112 N.H. 160, 162-163, 290 A.2d 866 (1972), the New Hampshire Supreme Court dealt with a Right-to-Know request regarding the disclosure of the names of public employees.
In making its decision, the Mans Court balanced the privacy interests of the employees against the public's right to know the requested information. See id. at 164.
The Court then specifically found that disclosing the salaries of the teachers in the school district to the general public would not constitute an invasion of privacy, because this information was not "intimate details . . . the disclosure of which might harm the individual." Id. at 164
The applicable portion of RSA 91-A:8 (I) provides:
If any body or agency or employee or member thereof, in violation of the provisions of this chapter, refuses to provide a public record . . . such body, agency, or person shall be liable for reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in a lawsuit under this chapter provided that the court finds that such lawsuit was necessary in order to make the information available to the proceeding open to the public.
Fees shall not be awarded unless the court finds that the body, agency or person knew or should have known that the conduct engaged in was a violation of this chapter . . . .
The word "shall in the statutory provision concerning attorney's fees . . . acts as a mandate if the necessary findings to support an award of attorney's fees are made." N.H. Challenge v. Comm'r. N.H. Dep't of Educ., 142 N.H. 246, 250, 698 A.2d 1252 (1997).
From this statute, it follows that an award of attorney's fees would be proper only if the City knew or should have known the petitioner had a right to know the names of the City employees who earn over $60,000 annually. See Voelbel v. Town of Bridgewater, 140 N.H. 446, 448, 667 A.2d 1028 (1995).