A Whidbey Island man who has made a living on lawsuits over public records against small rural school districts will be picking up one of his latest paychecks at taxpayers’ expense in Port …
A Whidbey Island man who has made a living on lawsuits over public records against small rural school districts will be picking up one of his latest paychecks at taxpayers’ expense in Port Townsend.
The Port Townsend School Board voted unanimously last week to approve a $12,500 settlement with Eric Hood to have his lawsuit against the school district dropped.
Hood was the subject of an in-depth story in The Leader in December which detailed more than a hundred lawsuits that he has filed against school districts, cities, towns and other small municipalities in Washington state.
“He typically picks on school districts in small towns. He has made quite a good living at it,” Jeffrey S. Myers, an Olympia-based attorney who has represented small cities against lawsuits filed by Hood, told The Leader earlier.
By Myers estimation, Hood has pulled in more than $820,000 from cases involving the Public Records Act since 2014.
Hood filed a lawsuit against the Port Townsend School District on Dec. 17.
It followed the pattern of other lawsuits he has pursued across Washington.
Hood initially filed a public records request Jan. 5, 2020, noting that the Port Townsend district had been recently audited by the state, and he asked for all documents related to the audit.
The school district released records, and after nearly a year went by, Hood filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Superior Court, claiming that not all documents he sought had been provided.
After an initial response to the lawsuit in December, the Port Townsend School District decided to settle.
Jay Schulkin, an attorney with the Seattle law firm of Porter Foster Rorick, who represented the school district against the lawsuit, declined to comment to The Leader about the case.
The $12,500 settlement agreement with the Port Townsend School Board was approved with little talk by district officials.
“We are very pleased to announce we were able to reach a conclusion to this litigation just this week,” Superintendent Sandy Gessner-Crabtree told the board at its
Jan. 21 meeting.
She asked for a motion to approve the settlement, adding “and we will be done with this issue.”
Board Member Jeff Taylor lambasted Hood before the vote was called.
“I just want to want Eric Hood and our community to understand this money is being taken away from children,” Taylor said. “That this money is being taken away from the taxpayers to enrich himself and hurting our community.”
“I hope he is proud of himself,” Taylor added.
“And I would like to see that we advocate for our state legislators to make adjustments to a very important public records law, that it should not be abused in this way to hurt the taxpayers,” he said.
Hood, who is not a lawyer but represents himself in most court cases he initiates, also filed a lawsuit against the Chimacum School District in late October.
A database of court records shows Hood has pursued more than a hundred lawsuits against school districts and other government entities in Washington in the last five years — more than three dozen lawsuits in 2020 alone.
Hood did not respond to a recent request for comment from The Leader.