Lower Court Erred In Denying Fees/Costs Because PRA Requires Agency To Seek Clarification Of Unclear Request And No Bad Faith Required As PRA Predicate.
In Camou v. Superior Court (City of Montclair), Case No. E066325 (4th Dist., Div. 2 Jan. 13, 2017) (unpublished), the Fourth District, Division 2 issued a Palma-based writ after finding that the lower court erred in determining that plaintiff did not prevail in a California Public Record Act proceeding. Plaintiff had sought a writ on the merits denial and appealed the fee/costs denial, with the appellate court consolidating both causes and issuing a peremptory writ in the first instance.
The main problems were that the lower court improperly found that plaintiff, rather than agency, had the burden of seeking clarification of an unclear request (the burden is on the agency) and that bad faith by the agency was a predicate for finding plaintiff prevailed in the PRA proceeding (it is not). That caused the issuance of a writ and a remand for the lower court to determine what fees/costs were owed to the plaintiff as the prevailing party, mooting her appeal on the fee/costs issue.