After 4 Years, Possible Retaliatory Law Suit Against SDSU and Local News Source Dismissed

by on October 30, 2019 · 0 comments

in Media, San Diego

by Mary Plummer / inewsource /  October 28, 2019

The California Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging inewsource’s lease with San Diego State University, bringing to a close a four-year legal battle that inewsource’s editor contends was in retaliation for its investigations of attorney Cory Briggs, now running for San Diego City Attorney.

“The lawsuit is over, dismissed and inewsource won the war,” said Lorie Hearn, executive director and editor of inewsource, in a written statement. “It’s been a long and expensive four years, fighting a lawsuit that was filed against us for exercising our responsibilities as investigative journalists.”

San Diegans for Open Government sued inewsource in 2015 after it published 10 stories about attorney Cory Briggs. The organization alleged conflicts of interest and problems with inewsource’s lease terms. Briggs, who is now running for San Diego city attorney, has close ties to San Diegans for Open Government. After a four-year legal battle, inewsource prevailed.

The suit was brought in 2015 by the nonprofit San Diegans for Open Government (SanDOG), which had argued inewsource’s contract for office space with SDSU unfairly benefitted Hearn, who at the time taught an investigative journalism class at the university. The 10-year-old inewsource is based in the KPBS newsroom, which is on the SDSU campus.

SanDOG filed the lawsuit as inewsource was publishing a series of investigations into the business practices of Briggs, a high-profile lawyer known for suing developers and local governments challenging compliance with environmental regulations.

SanDOG is a nonprofit that is “organized for the promotion of social welfare through advocacy for and education regarding responsible and equitable environmental development. SanDOG also has an interest, among other things, in open, transparent, government decision-making,” according to its stated mission on a Facebook page attached to the group. The organization has filed dozens of lawsuits against the city of San Diego.

inewsource’s investigations found that the Briggs Law Corp. oversees and pays for nearly every aspect of SanDOG’s operation. inewsource also found that until the lawsuit against the news organization, no lawyer other than Briggs had ever represented SanDOG.

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