Board of Supervisors to Seek Attorney Fees in Lawsuit Alleging Brown Act Violations

September 3, 2010

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors will seek more than $32,000 in fees in a lawsuit that will be dismissed alleging Brown Act violations.

Tulare County Counsel represents the Board of Supervisors. Deputy County Counsel Julia Langley said a motion was filed today seeking $32,270.10, which includes attorney fees and costs of defending several petitions. Richard P. McKee filed the lawsuit in March 2010. The Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance Register and the California Newspaper Publishers Association later joined as plaintiffs. (View motion for attorney fees)

“The petitioners and their counsel knew or should have known that they had no basis for filing either of the petitions,” Langley said. “The actual costs incurred by the County during this lawsuit should be paid by the petitioners.”

McKee argued that the Board of Supervisors violated the Brown Act – California’s open-meeting law – when eating meals together in numbers constituting a majority. The Board of Supervisors maintained that they did not violate the opening meeting law by attending lunch together because discussions had during meetings were not within the scope of the Brown Act.

On August 23, Tulare County Superior Court Judge Melinda Reed adopted a tentative ruling which will result in the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the Tulare County Board of Supervisors alleging Brown Act violations, Langley said.

Judge Reed ruled: “Petitioners’ second amended petition is based on speculation and unreasonable inferences. Thus Petitioner fails to allege facts showing that any type of policy making discussions affecting the general public or having to do with the county’s governmental interest have taken place.”

Chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors Steve Worthley issued the following statement regarding today’s filing:

“Without any supporting facts, the plaintiffs have wasted a significant amount of taxpayer dollars. It is only right for the County to recover those funds.”