South Euclid has paid more than $25K in legal fees for ongoing records dispute

From The Plain Dealer South Euclid has paid its lawyers more than $25,000 since 2011 to defend the city against a taxpayer's public records lawsuits.

Law Director Michael Lograsso has earned about $8,300 directly from the disputes, and the city has paid the firm Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper another $17,000, according to Finance Director James Smith. Some of the cost will be covered by insurance.

South Euclid property owner Emilie DiFranco has sued the city three times for failing to deliver public records she requested. DiFranco also filed a request for sanctions against council Clerk Keith Benjamin and Lograsso earlier this year.

Lograsso said a portion of the legal fees were incurred because DiFranco keeps appealing the courts' rulings.

Lograsso works for his own firm and part-time for the city. South Euclid pays him a $59,000 salary, plus $137.50 an hour for certain services.

The city pays outside firms $150 hourly. The law department spent about $775,000 from the general fund in 2012-13, and expects to spend $400,000 this year.

In February, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in DiFranco's favor in two cases stemming from a 2011 records request. The city had to pay DiFranco up to $1,000 after she waited months for the documents, but it was not responsible for her attorney fees, the court ruled.

Continue Reading>>