Columbia River Crossing lawsuit dropped

Accounting firm had sought company’s financial records

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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David Evans & Associates — the private company that holds the largest contract with the Columbia River Crossing — has dropped a lawsuit against a Vancouver company investigating the project’s spending.

The move came after the Acuity Group, a Vancouver-based accounting firm that businessman and staunch CRC opponent David Madore hired to comb through the project’s finances, withdrew a public records request for the firm’s audited financial statements.

David Evans & Associates filed suit against the request in September, saying that the financial statements requested by Debbie Peterson of Acuity Group contain information that constitutes a trade secret and could do “actual and substantial injury” to the business.

“They filed the claim, then we filed the suit,” David Evans & Associates spokeswoman Tami Boardman said. “They withdrew the claim, we withdrew the suit.”

Tiffany Couch, owner of Vancouver-based Acuity Group, said in the end that her team decided obtaining the audited financial statements may not be necessary.

“With counsel, we discussed our options and realized that we had limited litigation dollars to spend,” Couch said via email. “Knowing that audited financial statements are very high-level documents and may not be relevant to the CRC project specifically, we decided to cancel the request.”

Acuity is continuing its investigation into CRC finances. The company has requested thousands of pages of documents from the CRC, most of which have been provided. However, the group has had some difficulty getting timely responses under the state’s Freedom of Information Act laws. In July, Couch said that four requests made by her and Madore between March 4 and July 5 had yet to be answered. In a few other cases, she only got partial responses. The project said a few days later that the requests had been misfiled and would now be processed.

David Evans’ lawsuit had named the Washington State Department of Transportation and Peterson as defendants. The state agency was listed because it would have released the documents under the Freedom of Information Act request.

The audited financial statements, paid for by the company, are required under state and federal guidelines.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or andrea.damewood@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reporterdamewood or www.twitter.com/col_cityhall