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University of Missouri to pay $175,000 in open records case

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The University of Missouri has agreed to pay $175,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by an animal rights group over a public records request.

Four year ago, the Beagle Freedom Project sought public records pertaining to cats and dogs used for research at the university. University officials tried to charge the group $82,222 to fulfill the request.

The Beagle Freedom Project sued, arguing the university’s charge was so high it essentially prevented the release of the records.

The California-based nonprofit won in court in November, when Boone County Judge Jeff Harris ruled the university had knowingly violated the Sunshine Law.

On Monday, the case ended when the judge approved a final settlement. At one point during the negotiations, Dan Kolde, an attorney for the Beagle Freedom Project, had publicly offered to settle the dispute for $1 and policy changes at the university, St. Louis Public Radio reported.

A University of Missouri spokesman said the school officials continue to believe the university did not violate the open records law but is pleased to have reached the settlement.

The Missouri Sunshine Law allows a maximum fine of $1,000 for violations but also allows lawyers to recoup fees as an incentive to take on such cases, Kolde said.

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