Outer Banks Newspaper, Law Firm Settle In Records Dispute

A law firm that represented the Town of Kitty Hawk will pay a Dare County newspaper $20,000 to settle claims that it filed frivolous motions to lengthen a public records dispute.

Vandeventer Black will also pay $2,500 to the North Carolina Open Government Coalition under the settlement reached last week.

In June, a Dare County judge ordered Kitty Hawk to pay the Outer Banks Sentinel 75,000 dollars to cover the legal costs it incurred in the three-year battle. That judge said the town's attorneys used "totally unwarranted" tactics in defending the case.

The newspaper turned to the law firm to recover additional legal costs.

Media and government watchdog groups have tried unsuccessfully for years to persuade lawmakers to make the awarding of such fees automatic.