SLO Tribune and Lucia Mar battle over legal fees

December 18, 2019


The Lucia Mar Unified School District and The Tribune remain locked in a legal battle over the disputed handling of a now-fulfilled public records request, with each side seeking a six-figure sum as reimbursement for legal fees. [Tribune]

In a San Luis Obispo Superior Court case, The Tribune is seeking an award of more than $120,000 in legal fees. The newspaper filed a lawsuit against the school district for not releasing documents The Tribune demanded under the California Public Records Act.

Lucia Mar is seeking reimbursement for approximately $209,783 in legal fees. The district, which ultimately released the documents after the filing of the lawsuit and nearly a year after the initial request, argues The Tribune filed a frivolous suit, which could extract funding that would otherwise go to classrooms.

The case surrounds a public record request pertaining to former Nipomo High School girls’ wrestling coach Justin Magdaleno, who was accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching members of his team.

Despite a sheriff’s office recommendation to file charges, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office opted not to prosecute Magdaleno. Still, the coach’s actions are the subject of several lawsuits, including one filed by renowned feminist lawyer Gloria Allred.

On Oct. 26, 2017, a Tribune reporter submitted a request for disciplinary records pertaining to Magdaleno. The district responded about a week later saying it was investigating complaints of misconduct.

Months reportedly passed without The Tribune receiving any of the records it requested.

On April 5, 2018, the Tribune reporter submitted a second record request, asking for communications between district officials about Magdaleno.

Then on May 21, the district responded by releasing a large number of internal emails. But, the district said it was still conducting an investigation and refused to release records related to complaints against Magdaleno.

On Sept. 14, 2018, a few weeks after its legal counsel issued a demand, The Tribune filed a lawsuit against Lucia Mar.

The lawsuit reportedly prompted the district to finally turn over the records, nearly one year after The Tribune initially requested them.

On Sept. 24, 2018, the district turned over its investigative report, as well as Magdaleno’s disciplinary records. Over the course of a year, the district provided about 1,500 pages of records and email communications.


Must be for the $. I just do not believe the Fibune would take the time to actually read the 1500 pages of material provided, and provide a truthful, unbiased report. They have severely lacked the “Investigation” part of Investigative Reporting in the past.

But I agree Lucia Mar should have complied to the request. But to actually sue for this absurd amount? To take $200K from our kids on a story?? How desperate are they?


Shame on Lucia Mar for spending over $200,000.00 of tax payer money to fight a public records request that they eventually provided.


The Tribune SO reminds me of the “Sears Holdings” corporation. Just an anemic, gaunt, ghostly shell of its former self refusing to die.

So two years ago the Trib made a feeble attempt to look as if they were doing “investigative journalism,” and tried to dig up some dirt on some long-forgotten wrestling coach behaving badly. When the thing became pressed, Lucia Mar realized that most of it’s elementary school student newspapers were more balanced, better written and had a greater circulation than the Trib. So they did the right thing by thumbing their nose and proceeding to treat you with all dignity and respect that a dying propaganda rag such as yours deserved by ignoring your request. So you handled the situation maturely by filing a lawsuit against a public school district. I had more respect for Winona Ryder when she chose to shoplift on Rodeo drive after her career took an unceremonious splash into Hollywood’s pit toilet.

When will the Tribune learn that the ship is sinking, and by keeping the band playing on deck as the bow slips under the water isn’t fooling anyone? Do you need the $120k just to stay solvent until the day you can blame the Ukraine for Trump winning a 2nd term? I think it’s time for Joe Tarica to put on a wig and dress, and rush to the lifeboats with the rest of the women and children.


So sorry, Trib – looks like you’ve become ensnared by the very bureaucracy you support. That’s just how they operate – no transparency, don’cha know.



Shame on the SLO TT trying to take money from innocent schoolchildren through their frivolous lawsuits. The alleged perp in this case, Justin Magdaleno, has NEVER been charged with a crime, and it appears a celebrity lawyer is trying to earn profits off of taking advantage of the situation.

The SLO TT is wrong, and they should pay.


Well, KCBX said this AM five students hold legally binding allegations against this supposed “pervert”, you’re insinuating “children” whom experienced potential molestation are lying? Litigation in a backed up court takes a long time, and alot of slime balls pay out of court, ie, Harvey and Trump.