Attorneys in Sunshine Law case seek $345,000 from university

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – Two attorneys involved in an animal rights group’s open records lawsuit against the University of Missouri are seeking $345,000 in fees for their work fighting to obtain research records involving cats and dogs.

Boone County Judge Jeff Harris ruled in November the university knowingly violated the open records law by asking the Beagle Project to pay $82,000 for records on 179 research animals. The group sued in 2016, arguing the university’s demand was so high it essentially prevented the release of the records.

Under the law, the university was fined $1,000. But Harris also ruled he would award attorney fees because of the size of the university’s fees request, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

The university received the motion for attorney fees Tuesday. It is still deciding whether to appeal Harris’ November ruling, spokesman Christian Basi said.

Attorneys Eric Crinnian of Kansas City and Dan Kolde filed the motion for fees Monday. Crinnian said Wednesday he and Kolde are solo practitioners who were forced to hire contract help to work on the case, while the university had four attorneys.

He said awarding attorneys fees in cases like this would encourage other attorneys to fight agencies trying to resist disclosing public records.

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