The city of Davenport has reached a settlement with Dr. Allen Diercks and Patricia Lane in the open records violation case related to the attempted purchase of the Isle of Capri Casino in 2013.
The city will pay out a total of $129,055.59 after the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled last year that the city had violated Iowa Open Records law in not providing two public documents requested.
"This is a victory for the public and reaffirms that citizens do have the statutory right to timely receive public documents," attorney Mike Meloy said. "These records are owned by the public, not Davenport.”
Diercks and Lane requested all financial documents related to the potential purchase of the casino after the city began investigating the purchase in the fall of 2012.
In October of that year, then-Mayor Bill Gluba signed an agreement with the casino to examine its books. A contract was executed with Deloitte & Touche to conduct a due diligence investigation in December of 2012.
While Scott County District Court ruled against the plaintiffs in 2015, an appeal was launched in which the Court of Appeals analyzed Davenport's obligations to produce four documents.
Those documents were a Deloitte & Touche due diligence work product, a February 2013 invoice, the Deloitte Scope of Services document and a Jan. 9, 2013 legal memorandum from the city's legal consultant John Hintze.
The two documents the decision focuses on, including the $207,900 invoice in which the firm provided an accounting of the casino, were either held by City Attorney Tom Warner or others who were not employed by the city.
The city argued it did not refuse to provide the invoice because the email it was in was deleted by Warner. The court also disagreed with the city's other argument that the invoice provided no insight into its decision-making.
"Further, we are not persuaded the city 'substantially complied' with the request or the invoice provided 'no insight' into the City’s decision-making activities," the court documents state. "The plaintiffs sought 'all invoices' from Deloitte. The invoice provided before the task was complete disclosed the amounts the city was spending incrementally at taxpayer expense and the City’s willingness to continue said expense."
The Court of Appeals also ruled against the city in its failure to produce Hintze's Jan. 9, 2013, legal memorandum, which the city argued was subject to attorney-client privilege.
"Based on the parties’ apparent agreement the City did not argue this issue before the district court, the city cannot now maintain this exemption on appeal," the court documents stated. "The city has failed in its burden."
For the other two documents, the court ruled in favor of the city, then-City Administrator Craig Malin and City Clerk Jackie Holecek that they did not withhold documents.
With the case remanded back to District Court, the court ruled on Oct. 12 this year that the city owed $112,000 in attorney fees in addition to costs for the violations.
The $129,055.59 settlement is inclusive of attorney fees.