Newport pays $200,000 in attorney's fees to settle documents case

Newport Beach has paid out a little more than $200,000 in attorney's fees in the case of a resident who sued after encountering difficulty getting documents about a city-sponsored nonprofit.

City Attorney Aaron Harp's office confirmed Friday that the city resolved the fees last month with Kent Moore, a former Newport Beach Sister City Assn. board member.

The city delivered two checks totaling $202,129.52 in fees and costs.

Moore said he would have liked more, but the city still paid a significant amount.

"It's been a long, hard ordeal, and it's over," Moore said. "At least I can say we won."

The case started in 2014, when Moore requested a range of documents related to the Sister City Assn. for the previous six years.

He was concerned about how children were chaperoned and how the group spent money after the association took a trip to Antibes, France, in 2010.

Moore and his lawyer described the city's response at the time as insufficient. He filed suit in 2015.

In February 2016, Orange County Superior Court Judge Linda S. Marks admonished the city for making it unreasonably difficult for Moore to get the records.

The city has previously said that finding the documents was challenging, given their age, the move to a new City Hall and employee turnover.

Melinda Luthin, Moore's attorney, said it's disheartening that the lost records meanthe public won't know all the answers.

"It was a bittersweet battle," she said.

Harp said that the city always worked in good faith to get Moore the records. The issue was finding them.

Harp said the city has since spent considerable time studying records retention policies and organization, putting the city in a better position to respond to public records requests in the future.

"We took it very seriously," he said.

hillary.davis@latimes.com

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