Failing to turn over email record costs Shoreline nearly $539,000

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SEATTLE — The city of Shoreline’s failure to turn over email records in response to a Public Records Act request is costing it nearly $539,000.

King County Superior Court Judge Monica Benton on Friday ordered the city to pay more than $438,000 in attorney costs and fees, in addition to the $100,000 officials already agreed to pay to the plaintiffs, Beth and Doug O’Neill.

The nearly seven-year dispute began at a September 2006 City Council meeting in which then-Deputy Mayor Maggie Fimia read aloud an email she said she had received from Beth O’Neill. O’Neill didn’t send the message, so she filed a records request to see who did.

Before handing it over, Fimia removed the part of the email that indicated the sender. And then she deleted the email itself.

The case went up to the state Supreme Court, which ruled that email “metadata” — data about data itself, in this case the “from” field — is public under the law.

The Seattle Times reports Shoreline spokesman Eric Bratton said the city is disappointed in the ruling and evaluating its options.

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