Poway Schools Face $400,000 Cory Briggs Legal Bill After Losing Facebook-Blocking Lawsuit

Cory Briggs says he has worked more than 3 years for free on behalf of Poway Unified parents Chris and Kim Garnier. Photo by Ken Stone

Two Poway Unified school board members use their Facebook pages to celebrate student and staff success and post district highlights.

But the trustees — T.J. Zane and Michelle O’Connor-Ratcliff — haven’t shared a piece of news that could pinch taxpayers: They lost a federal court case last month that could cost the district more than $400,000.

On March 1, Judge Roger T. Benitez will hear attorney Cory Briggs argue that the Poway Unified School District and the two board members should pay “a reasonable $283,832” in fees and costs multiplied by 1.5 for having taken the case on a contingency basis — don’t pay unless you win.

Briggs — the recent San Diego city attorney candidate — was hired in 2017 by the married couple Christopher and Kimberly Garnier after Zane and O’Connor-Ratcliff blocked them from posting comments on the trustees’ Twitter and Facebook pages.

Benitez held a nonjury trial Sept. 21-22 in downtown federal court on the First Amendment case — similar to one involving Donald Trump and his Twitter feed. The judge ordered the pair to open their social media to comments.

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