Sec. 1101.103: Exception: Waiver

(a) The privilege established by Section 1101.101 does not apply to the extent the privilege is expressly waived by the owner or operator who prepared the audit report or caused the report to be prepared.

(b) Disclosure of an audit report or any information generated by an environmental or health and safety audit does not waive the privilege established by Section 1101.101 if the disclosure:

(1) is made to address or correct a matter raised by the audit and is made only to:

(A) a person employed by the owner or operator, including a temporary or contract employee;

(B) a legal representative of the owner or operator;

(C) an officer or director of the regulated facility or operation or a partner of the owner or operator;

(D) an independent contractor of the owner or operator;

(E) a person considering the acquisition of the regulated facility or operation that is the subject of the audit; or

(F) an employee, temporary employee, contract employee, legal representative, officer, director, partner, or independent contractor of a person described by Paragraph (E);

(2) is made under the terms of a confidentiality agreement between the person for whom the audit report was prepared or the owner or operator of the audited facility or operation and:

(A) a partner or potential partner of the owner or operator of the facility or operation;

(B) a transferee or potential transferee of the facility or operation;

(C) a lender or potential lender for the facility or operation;

(D) a governmental official of a state; or

(E) a person engaged in the business of insuring, underwriting, or indemnifying the facility or operation; or

(3) is made under a claim of confidentiality to a governmental official or agency by the person for whom the audit report was prepared or by the owner or operator.

(c) A party to a confidentiality agreement described by Subsection (b)(2) who violates that agreement is liable for damages caused by the disclosure and for any other penalties stipulated in the confidentiality agreement.

(d) Information that is disclosed under Subsection (b)(3) is confidential and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. A public entity, public employee, or public official who discloses information in violation of this subsection is subject to any penalty provided by Chapter 552, Government Code. It is an affirmative defense to the clerical dissemination of a privileged audit report that the report was not clearly labeled "COMPLIANCE REPORT: PRIVILEGED DOCUMENT" or labeled with words of similar import. The lack of labeling may not be raised as a defense if the entity, employee, or official knew or had reason to know that the document was a privileged audit report.

(e) This section may not be construed to circumvent the protections provided by federal or state law for individuals who disclose information to law enforcement authorities.

Comments

Added by Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 324 (S.B. 1488), Sec. 20.002(a), eff. September 1, 2017.