The city of Puyallup is cutting its losses and closing the books on a lengthy public-records lawsuit.
Puyallup City Council voted unanimously Monday to pay a judgment against the city in a lawsuit Olympia activist Arthur West filed against former City Councilman Steve Vermillion and the city in 2014.
"I move to authorize the city attorney to pay the judgment in the West vs. Vermillion case and further to direct that this case not be appealed contingent upon the withdraw of the appeal by Mr. Vermillion of his pending appeal in this matter," Councilman Tom Swanson said at special meeting.
The decision comes after four years of litigation and appeals in which the city spent more than $285,000 on outside attorneys, including Vermillion's attorney Ramsey Ramerman, and court penalties.
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Ramerman said Tuesday that it's likely Vermillion will agree to drop the appeal.
"What really has been overlooked here is the impact this has on us as citizens, " Ramerman said Tuesday. "This is an unfortunate result."
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stan Rumbaugh on June 15 ordered the city to pay $131,064 in penalties for not disclosing emails related to public business that had been stored on a private website created by Vermillion.
In October 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for review from the city and Vermillion, sending the case back to Pierce County Superior Court, which originally had ruled against the city and Vermillion in 2014.
Several city officials and council members expressed a desire to end the case, including Councilman Jim Kastama and Mayor John Palmer, according to an article published by The News Tribune last month.
“Thus far, no court has sided with the City of Puyallup in its efforts to seek constitutional protections for the retention of emails sent by former Councilmember Steve Vermillion,” Kastama wrote in an email. “Put simply, it is time to end this chapter in Puyallup’s history. I believe a public vote is most efficacious manner to address this.”