Skip to main content

Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.


Sloan submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Friends of the Hunley, Inc. a non-profit corporation dedicated to the recovery and conservation of the H.L. Hunley Confederate submarine, seeking a list of documents pertaining to Friends" corporate structure and legal relationship with the Hunley Commission, a state agency. Sloan sued Friends for failure to comply with the FOIA. Friends argued initially that it did not have to release the records, but after suit was filed released the records. The Supreme Court determined that the release of the records meant there was no longer a case on which the court could rule, i.e., the case was moot. But that mootness did not preclude the award of attorney's fees.


​The court held that production made the lawsuit moot but that Sloan was the "prevailing party" under the FOIA allowing attorney's fees. Section 30-4-100(b)​ of the South Carolina FOIA statute provides for an award of attorney's fees in a FOIA dispute. "If a person or entity seeking such [declaratory or injunctive] relief prevails, he or it may be awarded reasonable attorney fees and other costs of litigation. If such person prevails in part, the court may in its discretion award him or it reasonable attorney fees or an appropriate portion thereof." The court ruled that Sloan was entitled to attorney's fees up until the date the documents were produced. 

Full opinion