The California Horse Racing Board is a government agency charged with overseeing horse racing. Since it’s a public agency, its records are FOIAable.
Jamgotchian owns about 150 horses. Two of them died in California last year after suffering “catastrophic breakdowns”. He wants to know if there are safety problems on California’s racetracks. He thinks he has a chance of finding out about any such safety problems if he can learn more about how other horses died in California last year.
So, he filed an open records request asking for the necropsy reports of all horses that died at California tracks from January 2006 through June 18, 2007.
The CHRB is denying his request on the grounds that the medical records of dead horses are private. They are also accusing Mr. Jamgotchian of harrassing them.
It’s true that Mr. Jamgotchian has previously filed open records requests with the CHRB and the lawsuit he is now launching to get the necropsy reports will be his third against the CHRB. He won his first case and, in an phrase we find ourselves using with increasing frequency, the California taxpayers had to pony up $18,375 to unsuccessfully defend the CHRB’s non-right to withold public documents.
I have decided to create the “Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week” award and I am declaring Mr. Jamgotchian as its first recipient.