Shepherd Props. Co. v. Int’l Union of Painters & Allied Trades

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In this case, Plaintiff prevailed on its Access to Public Records Act (Act) claim against a public agency and an intervening private party. As required by statute, the trial court awarded Plaintiff attorney's fees. The fees were awarded against both the public agency and the intervening private party, jointly and severally. The private party argued that the Act does not contemplate the award of attorney's fees against an intervening private party and that only the public agency should be liable for the fees. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's award of attorney's fees to Plaintiff, holding (1) the Act, in light of the legislature's liberal-construction mandate and the statute's underlying policy, permits the award of attorney's fees against an intervening private party; and (2) in this case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in its apportionment of liability.