Local Open Government Blog
Public Records Lawsuit Frequent Flier Sent Packing
Arthur West, well known to those who follow open government issues in Washington State, had another of his lawsuits rebuffed by the Court of Appeals. In an unpublished decision, Division II rejected his Public Records Act and Open Public Meeting Act claims against the Washington Public Ports Association. The Court also declined to decide whether or not the Association is a public agency for purposes of the Public Records Act. While this case does not add much substantively to Washington's open government jurisprudence, it does serve as a reminder that detailed facts are a plaintiff's strongest ally in open government cases. The Court of Appeals was unwilling to let the OPMA or case go forward because Mr. West's allegations showed him to be a concerned citizen, but did not identify a specific injury. Similarly, Mr. West did not document a specific Public Records Act issue, so the Court of Appeals allowed the trial court's summary judgment in favor of the Ports Association to stand. Contrast this scenario to many recent Washington Public Records Act cases where the appellate courts have been quite harsh with public agencies that fail to meet their duty to provide access to citizens.
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