City of Riviera Beach Invokes Stricter Attorneys’ Fee Provision in Seeking to Deny Requester Attorneys’ Fees

The City of Riviera Beach, facing a public records lawsuit over records related to the firing of its City Manager, is testing a new provision of the Florida Public Records Act that restricts fee recovery in some access cases.  The update to Section 119.12, Florida Statutes went into effect in May.  It limits recovery of attorneys’ fees in actions to enforce the Public Records Act to those situations in which the requester gives the agency five business days’ notice before suing an agency.  Notice is only required if the agency has “prominently posted the contact information for the agency’s custodian of public records in the agency’s primary administrative building in which public records are routinely created, sent, received, maintained, and requested and on the agency’s website, if the agency has a website.”  As always, fees are recoverable only if the Court determines the agency unlawfully refused to permit access to a public record.  In court papers, the requestor claims the City did not comply with the statute’s prominent posting requirements.  It’s not clear whether the requestor, who is litigating the case pro se, is in fact incurring attorneys’ fees.  A link to the statute is here: 

Local media sought Shullman Fugate’s comment on the lawsuit.  The firm’s public comments are available here:

Categories: Cases, Other News