A Missouri judge has ruled that a state agency violated open records law when it tried to charge a research group nearly $1.5 million for birth and death records then rejected the request.

Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce ordered the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to pay a $12,000 fine and about $150,000 in legal fees for the genealogical research firm, Reclaim the Records.

Joyce ruled last week that the state agency had purposely violated the state's open records law in its response to the research group's request.

A spokeswoman said the department is considering an appeal.

demaerre