Florida Public Records and Open Meetings Attorney's Fees Database
The following is a chronology of cases in which plaintiffs obtained litigation expenses in legal actions filed under the Florida Open Records or Open Meetings Law. In some of the cases, the court awarded attorney's fees, court costs, or both. In other cases, litigation expenses were included as part of a settlement agreement. The chronology also notes those cases in which government actions were nullified. The amounts of litigation expenses awarded or agreed to in settlements have been provided when possible. In some cases, judges awarded litigation expenses, but did not specify amounts.
To date, the single largest attorney’s fees award in a Public Records or Open Meetings suit is approximately $775,000 awarded to a citizen activist who sued the city of Venice over the use of private e-mail accounts to discuss public business. The city’s own legal expenses exceeded $600,000 in the case, which was settled in March 2009, with the city acknowledging it violated Florida’s open government laws (see our April 2009 edition of the Brechner report for more details). In addition, Florida Governor Rick Scott and the state agreed to use $1 million of taxpayer money to settle several public lawsuits in 2015. Scott and the state will pay $700,000 to settle a long-standing dispute between Scott and Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews. While the setlement did not include Andrews' attorney's fees, Scott will pay his own lawyers an addtional $300,000 for his defense related to this setlement and another public records lawsuit. This settlement is believed to be one of the largest payments made in a public records case in Florida's history (see our September 2015 edition of the Brechner Report for more details).
The Brechner Center would like to receive information about other open meetings or records cases in which litigation expenses were awarded or obtained. The Center would also like to receive updated information on any of the cases listed in the chronology, please contact us at:
Attention: Editor, The Brechner Report
Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
College of Journalism and Communications
University of Florida
P.O. Box 118400
Gainesville, FL 32611-8400