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Monday, July 11, 2011

Mercer Island Fined Over $90,000 for Withholding Public Records

The Seattle Times reports on a federal ruling against the City of Mercer Island awarding $90,560 to a records requestor for the City's "negligent, reckless, wanton or intentional noncompliance" with the state Public Records Act.

This is one of the largest penalty awards in the history of the Public Records Act. Usually penalty awards go toward the attorney fees a prevailing requestor is not awarded. That is, penalties usually reduce the losses a requestor has from not obtaining all of his or her attorney fees. (So much for the idea that Public Records Act penalties are a "windfall" for requestors.) This case, after all, took years of litigation in federal court, which isn't cheap.