Lynnwood settles records dispute with landowner

LYNNWOOD — The city of Lynnwood has agreed to pay a Bothell man $63,575 to settle a lawsuit over how the city handled his public records requests.

The lawsuit, filed this past summer, involved records requests made by Surinder Rekhi in May 2012.

Rekhi didn’t receive the final installment of records until October 2013, according to the settlement agreement. The agreement was signed by Mayor Nicola Smith on Feb. 13, and obtained by The Herald because it’s also a public record.

The suit alleged that city officials withheld records that should have been disclosed and produced records that weren’t requested, at Rekhi’s expense. Rekhi requested a variety of records regarding residential property he owned at 6604 202nd St. SW. He was ordered to demolish buildings there in 2007 and has been unable to rebuild, according to the lawsuit. Rekhi declined to comment for this story.

“We’re just really pleased the city of Lynnwood has stepped up and decided to follow the statute,” said his attorney, Tom Brennan, with Seattle firm McKay Chadwell. Brennan called the city’s initial handling of the request “regrettable.” City officials did not have any additional comment regarding the settlement.

Rekhi received the rest of the requested records in the months after his lawsuit was filed. In a court motion from January, Rekhi sought a $100 daily penalty from the city starting the day of his initial request nearly two years ago.

He also had sought attorney’s fees.

In the settlement, the city does not admit to any wrongdoing, and Rekhi waives the right to future legal action regarding the matter.

According to court papers filed by Rekhi’s attorneys, the city hired an additional part-time staffer to help process public records amid the dispute.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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