Asotin man sues county for allegedly refusing his public records requests

CLARKSTON, WA - An Asotin man is suing Asotin County for allegedly refusing his repeated public records requests.

"If I didn't believe Rich had a good claim, I wouldn't bring this," said Attorney Todd Richardson. "These are my friends I'm having to sue."

Attorney Todd Richardson is talking about the Asotin County Commissioners. Friends and people he works with on a regular basis as a lawyer in Clarkston. But personal matters aside, he's representing Rich Eggleston, who is suing the city for repeatedly refusing his public records requests.

"Starting eight years ago, Rich asked for a record," said Richardson. "A very specific record. And they said, we're not interested."

Not interested and not willing to give Eggleston documents regarding Ten Mile Bridge, documents that Richardson said held information about grave sites where the bridge was constructed.

"Legally that means they are now abusing the law." said Richardson.

The Ten Mile Bridge is what has caused all the controversy for Rich Eggleston and his family and the County of Asotin.

"We're filing the claim because for eight years we've asked the same question," said plaintiff Rich Eggleston. "We ask the county to provide a public record. I think if that public record had been provided initially it would have changed the scope and demeanor of this project and would have saved hundreds of thousands, likely millions of dollars."

Richardson claims the Asotin County Commissioners were informed of grave sites where they wanted Ten Mile Bridge constructed, but they kept building anyway. So he said he wants the commissioners to be held responsible for their actions.

"I think the best thing this document can do is bring light to the fact that local government had better pay attention to the public," said Eggleston.

Richardson said legally when someone files a public records request, the county has to act quickly.

"The law requires that within five days they acknowledge the request," said Richardson. "Then if they need additional time, make a reasonable estimate of how much more time they need."

Commissioner Don Brown said public records requests are taking longer than they should due to budget cuts as the county just doesn't have the staff. The requests take away time from employees to carry out county business and also costs the county a lot of money.

Richardson said they filed the suit on June 18th in Walla Walla County and Asotin County has until July 10th to respond.