Man wins lawsuit against South Fulton over open records

A South Fulton man fought city hall and won. He sued the city for what he calls the inadequate way the city responds to open records requests.

Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray was the first to report on the lawsuit last year.

In a consent agreement obtained by Gray, the city of South Fulton does not admit fault but does agree to a list of changes in how it handles open records requests for every citizen going forward.

“I hope it’s a lesson for city officials here, as well as cities all across the state of Georgia,” said Reshard Snelling.

Snellings said it was a last resort, but one that got results.

In November, Channel 2 Action News reported how Snellings filed a lawsuit against South Fulton for allegedly violating Georgia open records laws.

He’d get no response to some requests, sky-high fees for others, and some records came with whole pages redacted.

“Delay after delay, after delay, is just unacceptable,” Snellings said.


In the consent agreement, the city of South Fulton does not acknowledge wrongdoing but does agree to several remedies including holding a training for city staff and another for city residents in open records law.

“As a result of that settlement, going forward, the city’s going to change the way that they do business a little bit when it comes to the Open Records,” Snellings attorney Joy Ramsingh said.

The city of South Fulton said in a statement:

“In response to an open records complaint, the City of South Fulton reaffirms its unwavering commitment to transparency and compliance within standards of the Open Records Act. Significant strides have been made to enhance response processes regarding open records requests.”

“Gone are the days where we’re just going to take your word for we want to verify, what you’re telling us is accurate, especially when our money is being spent,” Snellings said.

South Fulton also was required by the agreement to cover all of Snelling’s attorney fees.

After the settlement, he wanted to know what all this cost the city, so filed an open records request for that.

When he got it back, they redacted the dollar amount for what South Fulton paid its attorney fees for this case.