Appeals Court Awards Full Fees, Costs To Chattanooga Woman Who Said City Did Not Provide Documents She Sought

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has directed that the city of Chattanooga pay over $70,000 to a woman and her attorney in a case in which she said the city did not supply the public documents she requested.

The award goes to Rebecca Little and her attorney, John Anderson.

Chancellor Frank Brown initially did not award costs and fees to Ms. Lee.

After a successful appeal, he set the amount at $50,284.50.

There was an appeal in which it was ruled that Ms. Little was to get the full amount sought.

The ruling says, "This appeal questions the propriety of the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7-505(g) (Supp. 2013). The statute provides that an award of fees and costs can be made when a municipality wrongfully fails to disclose public documents requested pursuant to the Public Records Act. In the prior appeal of this action, this Court determined that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to award the plaintiff fees and costs she incurred in seeking the disclosure of public documents from the City of Chattanooga pursuant to the referenced statute.

"Upon remand, the plaintiff filed a petition seeking attorney’s fees and costs exceeding $70,000.00. The trial court found that the total fees and costs sought by the plaintiff were unreasonable and excessive, and the court reduced the amount of fees awarded to $50,284.50. The court also reduced the costs awarded for mileage and court reporter charges. Plaintiff appeals.

"We reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand for entry of an award of the full amount of fees and costs sought."

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