The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled the city of Riverdale has to pay the attorney fees for residents who sued to get video of a fight they had with the mayor. Allen Diercks, Marie Randol, and Tammie Picton, were at Riverdale City Hall to pick up documents they had requested through the state open records law.
The three had constantly been at odds with the city, making nearly 200 records requests in a roughly two-year time period.They had also been involved in lawsuits with the city over the requests. Mayor Jeffrey Grindle came to the counter this time to talk with them about their requests and things erupted into what was called a heated argument.
Mayor Grindle allowed a newspaper reporter to view a video of the incident for a story, but on advice of an attorney refused to turn the video over to Diercks, Randol and Picton. They sued the city and won in district court and were awarded nearly 65-thousand dollars in attorney fees.
The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled there was no finding that the city had acted in bad faith in withholding the tape, and denied the attorney fees. The Iowa Supreme Court reversed the appeals court ruling. The high court says this case “aptly illustrates the need for attorney-fee awards to motivate private attorneys to represent citizens who are improperly denied access to public records. The defendants were forced to litigate against their home city for sixteen months before obtaining the video recording of their confrontation with the mayor.”
The ruling said the city did not show any good reason why it delayed providing the video and also ordered the city to pay their fees for appealing the case.
See the complete ruling here: Riverdale PDF