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Fort Smith loses bid on legal fee relief in FOIA lawsuit

The City will not get relief from the more than $13,000 legal fees tied to the FOIA case.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — The city of Fort Smith might have prevailed in a lawsuit filed against them in December alleging Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) violations in regard to proposals related to 0.75% sales and use Tax, but will not get relief from more than $13,000 in legal fees tied to the case.

Circuit Court Judge Greg Magness issued an order Tuesday (Jan. 11) denying the city’s motion for attorney fees in the matter of Kristin Kitchens v. City of Fort Smith, leaving the city responsible for the approximate $13,500 spent defending the action. Magness ruled in favor of the city of Fort Smith in the lawsuit alleging FOIA violations on the part of the city in regard to proposals related to 0.75% sales and use Tax, on Dec. 16, stating the city did not violate the law.

On Dec. 29, the city filed a motion for legal fees in association with the lawsuit, claiming the city is entitled to reimbursement of its attorney fees under FOIA. The FOIA stipulates the city is entitled to recover its “expenses” only if “the action was initiated for frivolous or dilatory purposes.” In his order, Magness said, “It was clear from the plaintiff’s testimony and from the legal arguments made by her counsel that the filing of the action was not for frivolous or dilatory purposes.”

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