by Ileana Najarro
[Note from E&E Legal General Counsel David Schnare, who explained this to the Washington Post reporter: “There is a lot of misunderstanding about the $250 ‘damages’ assessed by the Court. Any appellant that loses their appeal in the Virginia Supreme Court has to make this payment to the opposing party. It is generally intended to pay for the costs of printing of briefs. It does not include attorney’s fees or any other costs. Mann won’t get a cent. It all goes to the University.”]
The Virginia Supreme Court has ordered the conservative nonprofit Energy and Environmental Legal Institute to pay $250 in damages to the University of Virginia and a climate scientist who previously worked there.
The organization lost a lawsuit in April against the University of Virginia and scientist Michael E. Mann, with the state’s high court ruling that Mann’s unpublished research and e-mails about global warming, written when he was still at the school, were exempt from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. This month, the court ordered that the group pay damages to the school and the scientist, who now works at Pennsylvania State University…
David Schnare, general counsel for the plaintiff, said the court’s decision was a mixed bag. While the group did not gain access to Mann’s e-mails and research, the court did clarify the terms by which academic research can be exempt from future FOIA requests. He added that the clarification set the stage for other like-minded groups to pursue Mann’s documents with a new understanding of what they can request and how.
“The story isn’t over,” Schnare said.