January 13, 2017
Washington Supreme Court Unanimously Rules in Favor of Pacifica Client Woodland Park Zoo
Significant Public Records Act opinion provides guidance for nonprofits and other entities that partner with government.
In a case of first impression, the Washington Supreme Court issued a unanimous, 9-0 opinion yesterday holding that the Woodland Park Zoological Society, a private nonprofit organization that operates the Woodland Park Zoo (“Zoo”), is not subject to Washington’s Public Records Act (“PRA”). See Fortgang v. Woodland Park Zoo, ___ Wn.2d____, No. 92846-1 (Jan. 12, 2017).
The Supreme Court also adopted a test for determining when the PRA applies to nonprofits and other private entities that provide public benefits with at least partial government support. The test appropriately limits the PRA’s application only to those situations where an entity has “effectively assumed the role of government.”
Pacifica attorneys Paul Lawrence, Greg Wong, and Alanna Peterson represented the Zoo in the litigation and appeals.