Firm vindicates client's rights in court of appeal

August 1, 2013 – Partner Cari Cohorn persuaded the California Court of Appeal to reverse a trial court decision allowing a trade organization to use the California Public Records Act to obtain a client’s private records.  The client, San Francisco Bar Pilots (“SFBP”), is a private association of licensed pilots who maneuver ships through the San Francisco Bay and related waterways.  The state imposes certain duties on SFBP, and in particular on the pilot who serves as “Port Agent.”  Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, a trade organization representing the shippers required to pay SFBP fees for pilotage, attempted to use the Public Records Act to obtain extensive records created and used by SFBP – but not by any public officer or agency.  In a published opinion, the Court of Appeal rejected PMSA’s assertion that SFBP’s records are public and agreed with the firm’s arguments that the evidence presented to the trial court unequivocally demonstrated that the records PMSA sought are private and not subject to the Public Records Act.