Legal settlement will cost Port of Olympia $187,300

A Port of Olympia settlement with open government advocate Arthur West will cost the port $187,300, according to a copy of the settlement, which The Olympian received Tuesday after filing a public records request.

At its Dec. 8 meeting, the port commission approved a plan to move forward with the settlement of three lawsuits West filed against the port as long ago as 2007. The settlement finally was agreed to on Dec. 9.

Payment has been made, said Heather Burgess, the port’s legal counsel.

West of Olympia receives $100,000, while his legal representation at Cushman Law Office P.S. of Olympia receives $87,300. The funds are paid out of port reserves, port Finance Director Jeff Smith said.

In exchange for the payment, West “agrees to dismiss the port with prejudice or otherwise withdraw” from the three lawsuits, according to the settlement.

Two of the lawsuits allege the port violated the Public Records Act in 2007 and 2012, while the third lawsuit was filed against the port and related parties alleging a state Environmental Policy Act violation tied to dredging and sediment cleanup in 2007.

The settlement also stipulates that West agrees that “any and all future” disputes with the port “shall be finally resolved by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association under its commercial arbitration rules.”

It goes on to say that the “terms of this (arbitration) section (of the settlement) shall remain in force for a period of 10 years from the date of execution of this agreement.”

One of West’s Public Records Act lawsuits in 2007 also includes plaintiff Jerry Dierker of Olympia.

Burgess said she thinks Dierker’s claims were dismissed long ago. However, she said Dierker has recently dropped off his own request for a settlement, which she plans to respond to.

Still, Burgess said the only settlement the port has agreed to so far is with West.