Portland City Council voted today to pay my attorney fees and put and end to the public records lawsuit, Tyler Bechtel v. City of Portland and Mayor Wheeler, Case No. 18 CV 04107. Here’s The Oregonian article on it.
In fact, the city got off lucky
I pushed for a fast conclusion using a somewhat obscure local rule. Mr. Bechtel hired me on March 22, 2018. The court hearing took place on April 13, 2018. As a result of the fast process, I did not have too many hours into this litigation.
Contrast this public records case to Portland Public Schools v. Beth Slovic and Kimberly Sordyl, Case No. 17 CV 14047. PPS sued on April 3, 2017. The dispositive hearing took place on May 11, 2018. Defendant Sordyl’s petition for attorney fees and court costs exceeds $119,000.
Too often, public officials simply tell the press or citizens: “give up on your public records request or find a lawyer and sue.” Most times, it is not worth spending money on a lawyer to sue for information that may be stale by the time the court process concludes.
I hope that the Bechtel case is a model to “flip the script.” Here, I took the case under a contingent fee and used the rules to get a fast decision. So, next time an agency says, “If you don’t like it. sue us.” The response will be, “Okay, see you in court.”
Here’s some more information on Oregon Public Records Law.
Jeff Merrick, Attorney
(c) 2018 Jeff Merrick and Merrick Law, LLC.