A Special Meeting of Council has been called for Monday, October 26, 2015 at 7PM in room 7 of the Maple Heights City Hall. This is a public meeting. On the agenda is:
- 2015-71 Authorizing the settlement of State Ex Rel John Chapman, et al vs City of Maple Heights (CV-15-839493).
This OhioWatchDog.org article by Maggie Thurber explains the case in more detail. Briefly, the case was filed because the city was violating the Ohio Open Meetings Act by not keeping minutes of their caucus’ and work sessions and had improperly called an illegal executive session. According to the Ohio Sunshine Law Manual (pages 95-105):
[t]he Open Meetings Act requires that an action for injunction be filed in the court of common pleas in the county where the alleged violation took place.
If the court issues an injunction, the court will order the public body to pay a civil forfeiture of $500 to the person who filed the action. Courts that find that a public body has violated the law on repeated occasions have awarded a $500 civil forfeiture for each violation.
If the court issues an injunction, it will order the public body to pay all court costs and the reasonable attorney fees of the person who filed the action. Courts have discretion to reduce or completely eliminate attorney fees, however, if they find that, (1) based on the state of the law when the violation occurred, a well-informed public body could have reasonably believed it was not violating the law; and (2) it was reasonable for the public body to believe its actions served public policy. If the court does not issue an injunction and deems the lawsuit to have been frivolous, the court will order the person who filed the suit to pay all of the public body’s court costs and reasonable attorney fees as determined by the court. A public body is entitled to attorney fees even when those fees are paid by its insurance company.