Attorney says City of Germantown won’t turn over more documents on July water crisis

Published: Oct. 17, 2023 at 10:33 PM CDT
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GERMANTOWN, Tenn. (WMC) - Another twist in the wake of the Germantown water crisis that took place in July.

An attorney investigating the water contamination says the City of Germantown is now refusing to provide additional public documents and other information on the water crisis.

You may remember that a Germantown city employee was fired after city officials said he left a generator unattended during refueling.

Up to 300 gallons of diesel leaked into the soil at the Southern Avenue water plant, making its way into a broken pipe leading to the city’s water reservoir.

Germantown Water Treatment Plant on Southern Avenue
Germantown Water Treatment Plant on Southern Avenue(Action News 5)

That water crisis left thousands of residents without safe drinking water for a week.

The City of Germantown is giving several reasons for stemming the flow of information and not fulfilling that open records request, according to their response to a lawsuit filed by Attorney Kevin Snider.

“It seemed like we were kind of moving in the right direction, then just kind of all stopped,” said Attorney Kevin Snider with the Snider & Horner Law Firm.

Snider, who we first sat down with in July, says he has clients wanting more answers on how the crisis happened.

Snider sued the City of Germantown in August in Shelby County Chancery Court for not replying to his open records request within seven business days, which is required by state law.

“This is not a lawsuit that we’re suing people for money,” said Snider. “This is not a lawsuit of our clients wanting anything other than basic information that they have a fundamental right and a statutory right under the Public Records Act to see things.”

Not long after the city began sending over documents related to the water crisis, Snider says the flow of information came to a halt.

In their reply to Snider’s lawsuit, the city says they don’t have to fulfill Snider’s request because it’s not specific enough. They also say it yielded more than 66,000 records and the information he’s asking for is protected by attorney-client privilege and includes information on city structures.

City officials also told Snider he could inspect those thousands of records, but for Snider, reasons not to fulfill this request are not passing the smell test.

“It just poses more questions than answers at this point,” said Snider. “If they think for one second this is going away, they can think again.”

Snider says he plans to file a new request for production of documents.

He says if that doesn’t work, they’ll have to take this to a chancellor.

The Snider and Horner Law Firm has made the documents they’ve received so far accessible to the public.

You can find a link to them here.

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