The owner of the Forum sued Inglewood on Friday, accusing the city of violating California’s Public Records Act in connection with a deal for the Clippers to explore building an arena near the landmark sports and concert venue.
In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the Madison Square Garden Co. said the city produced just five documents — most already available to the public — in response to wide-ranging public records requests to the city and two related agencies. All of the documents were dated after the June 15 announcement of the city’s three-year exclusive negotiating agreement with the Clippers.
The lawsuit called the lack of documentation “inconceivable” and “implausible.”
“Respondents’ assertions that they lack any additional records responsive to petitioners’ PRA requests simply is not credible,” the complaint said.
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. said he had no knowledge of the lawsuit and that the city provided all relevant records.
Key among the lawsuit’s claims is that the city didn’t produce any drafts of the agreement with the Clippers or any calendar entries, voicemails, text messages or handwritten notes related to the project.
The only records MSG obtained were a sheet of brief questions and answers about the project, two copies of the agreement with the Clippers, an email from Butts linking several news stories about the plan and an email from Inglewood City Councilman Alex Padilla to constituents.
Earlier this year, Inglewood said it had no responsive materials to a request by The Times for any communication or documents involving Butts or City Manager Artie Fields and the Clippers from November through May.
In communications with attorneys for MSG, Inglewood didn’t claim any exemptions under the state Public Records Act in order not to produce documents.
Friday’s lawsuit asks the court to issue a writ of mandate directing Inglewood to turn over all relevant records and for the city to pay legal fees resulting from the litigation.
This is the latest move in the increasingly fraught relationship between Inglewood and the Forum. After approval of the Clippers deal, a strongly worded statement issued on behalf of the arena accused the city of “backroom dealing.”
Last week, MSG filed a claim for damages with Inglewood over the project. The claim, which can precede a lawsuit, alleged that Butts tricked MSG into helping open the door for the project.
Follow Nathan Fenno on Twitter @nathanfenno