STATE CAPITAL BRIEFS (LUNCH EDITION): FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2015
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
COURT REJECTS ATTORNEY’S FEES IN PUBLIC RECORDS CASE
An appeals court Friday overturned a decision awarding attorney’s fees to a group that filed a public-records lawsuit against the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The dispute stems from an April 2013 public-records request submitted to a department employee by an attorney for Consumer Rights LLC. The group filed a lawsuit after the department failed to respond to the request, though the records were subsequently produced. A Leon County circuit judge ruled the department had “unjustifiably delayed” in providing the records and said Consumer Rights was entitled to attorney’s fees, according to Friday’s ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal. But the department appealed, arguing that Consumer Rights LLC had failed to comply with a notice requirement in seeking the fees. A three-judge panel of the appeals court Friday agreed with the argument, saying the notice requirement was a “condition precedent that CR (Consumer Rights) failed to satisfy.” The state also argued that an attorney for the group filed public-records requests with state employees in hopes they would not respond properly. The appeals court said there was “some evidence supporting this allegation,” but it declined to rule on the issue.