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Public records lawsuit against CCPT dismissed


March 12, 2020

DAYTON–A 2019 lawsuit alleging Columbia County Public Transportation violated provisions of the Public Records Act has been dismissed in Columbia County Superior Court.

Judge Pro-Tem G. Scott Marinella ruled in favor of Columbia County Public Transportation (CCPT) on March 5, 2020, entering an order which granted summary judgment in favor of CCPT and dismissing all claims alleged by Stephen Kirby, doing Business as Tikor Consulting and represented by Whipple Law Group of Spokane, with prejudice.

Kirby filed the suit in April, 2019, alleging that requests for some 15 different public records or classifications of records were not responded to in a timely manner.

CCPT’s attorney, Quinn N. Plant, of Menke, Jackson, Beyer LLP, of Yakima, argued in a September 18, 2019 hearing, for dismissal.

The court found that there were “no genuine issues of material fact so as to preclude a summary judgment in favor of the defendant, CCPT,” and that CCPT “is entitled as a matter of law to a summary judgment in its favor on all the claims alleged against it by the plaintiff,” court records indicate.

Last October, Kirby, through his attorney Michael D. Whipple of The Whipple Law Group, PLLC, of Spokane, filed documents to add five new claims to the suit. The matter was denied due to statute of limitations.

There was no monetary award granted to either party.

In the complaint filed in 2019, Kirby alleged that documents were provided 685 days after they were requested and that relief was sought for “harm caused,” including the requested records, cost of bringing the lawsuit, reasonable attorney’s fees, penalties of $100 a day as determined at trial, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief the court may deem “just and proper.”

CCPT General Manager David Ocampo expressed relief that the matter is concluded and pointed out that the four-year lawsuit cost taxpayers an estimated $60,000 to $70,000, not counting employee wages.

A settlement offer of $80,000, made in the midst of the lawsuit, was turned down, Ocampo said. “We were looking at quite an expense to the public,” Ocampo said, had the settlement offer been accepted.

As the suit progressed, he added, Kirby and Tikor Consulting continued to make requests for public records, including, for example, serial numbers of cameras on buses.

“This was very irritating,” Ocampo commented, noting that CCPT strives to be open and transparent with requests from the public for information. Ocampo urged any member of the public who has questions about the finances at CCPT to visit their offices and ask questions.


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