Ameriquest Wins Favorable Supreme Court Decision in Case Against AGO
On November 4, the Washington Supreme Court issued a 9-0 opinion favoring Lane Powell client Ameriquest over the State Attorney General’s Office (“AGO”). The case involved a 2007 public records request to the AGO for Ameriquest’s customer-related documents that the AGO had collected during its investigation into Ameriquest’s lending practices. Lane Powell filed suit to prevent the disclosure of the documents. After losing at the trial court (and in an initial motion to stay before the Court of Appeals), Lane Powell finally prevailed at the Court of Appeals (“COA”) on most issues in early 2009. The AGO appealed and the Supreme Court took review of the part of the case involving the federal banking law, known as the Gramm Leach Bliley Act, and whether that federal law prevented disclosure or even redactions under the state Public Records Act.
The Supreme Court not only agreed with Lane Powell’s arguments, repeatedly characterizing the AGO’s positions as “incorrect” and “out of context,” but the Court also engaged in a detailed analysis of how a federal privacy right interacts with the presumption of disclosure under the Public Records Act and, in so doing, provided a framework for application of federal law in other public records disclosure cases.
The case will now be remanded to the trial court to deal with other aspects of the case, but this is a great result for our client. Lane Powell Shareholders Erik Price and Laura Morse worked closely throughout the case with the client’s California counsel (who argued the case). Ryan McBride, Lane Powell Shareholder, provided assistance in the moot court argument practices.