NEVADA–In mid-June, a state district judge in Reno ordered the Washoe County Airport Authority to disclose to the Reno Gazette- Journal the details of agreements it reached with two former employees to settle their wrongful termination lawsuits.
The court rejected airport authority officials’ claims that confidentiality provisions in the settlements prevented their release.
The documents revealed that the airport agency paid over $663,000 to settle the cases. The newspaper had previously reported that the former employees were paid about $560,000.
Faith Bremner, a Reno Gazette-Journal reporter, requested disclosure of the settlement agreements in April 1997. When the request was denied the newspaper filed suit seeking a court order declaring that the settlement documents are public records that must be released pursuant to the state public records law.
Agreements that “involve payment of significant public funds and involve allegations of wrongdoing by public officials and/or a governmental entity . . . are within the sphere of information which the legislature and courts have consistently found to be legitimate concerns of the public and press, and subject to disclosure,” the newspaper argued. (Reno Newspapers, Inc. v. Airport Authority of Washoe County; Media Counsel: James Hardesty, Reno)