METRO, attorney to settle document destruction suit
HOUSTON The agency's board of directors made the decision during a special meeting on Tuesday. Both METRO and attorney Lloyd Kelley are expected to sign the settlement, which will then be submitted to a judge for approval, according to the agency. Details of the settlement are expected to be released once it's finalized. Kelley filed a lawsuit against METRO in January after he claimed that documents he requested via Open Records were destroyed. "The conclusion I expect to see in the Agreed Final Judgment is that there was no evidence of document destruction related to the plaintiff's Open Records request," METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia said. METRO officials said their internal investigation reached that same conclusion. "Going forward as the new METRO, the public can place even greater confidence in METRO as we embrace transparency and openness as the right way of doing the public's business," Garcia said. METRO has been plagued with other allegations in the past few months. The agency is being sued by two attorneys who worked there. Pauline Higgins and Jakki Hansen allege METRO fired them after they said the agency hadn't been properly storing documents. On May 7, the agency's former CEO, Frank Wilson, resigned and the board appointed George Greanias as interim president. Wilson also faced allegations of using public funds to further a relationship with a secretary. The agency also has changed its documentation policy. "Closing the chapter on this lawsuit will help METRO staff focus more intensely on building a great public transit system for our customers and those we want to attract as riders," said Greanias. "We know what our priorities are -- restoring public trust and confidence, accelerating construction on five new light rail lines, and enhancing bus service -- and we're pursuing them with a renewed sense of commitment and purpose."
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