Denver city attorney’s office makes claims costly to review

From  Denver officials have made it more difficult for the public and the City Council to review key documents that could costs taxpayers millions each year and could help spot problems or trends with city employees or processes.

For years, notices of intent to sue, which an allegedly injured party must file within 180 days of uncovering the problem, have been readily available at the council and city attorney offices.

But when Brian Maass, an investigative reporter at CBS Denver went to see the claims, they were no longer available. He filed a Colorado Open Records Act request for the records Nov. 5 .

The city responded Nov. 10, saying it would take more than 40 staff hours and $1,170 to review a year’s worth of the notices.

Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn, who covered City Hall for the Rocky Mountain News until it closed in 2009, said he was told the city attorney’s office decided years ago to review and redact the letters because attorneys for the person suing might include information that’s confidential or protected by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Flynn said he questioned why the city should be required to protect data the plaintiff’s attorney voluntarily puts in an otherwise public document.

“They told me a very small percentage of these” contain private information, Flynn told

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