In a well-publicized case and in a victory for the St. James Fire District, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick’s municipal litigation team saved the district significant funds by defeating a petition that sought to punish the district for allegedly not complying with a multitude of overlapping, conflicting F.O.I.L. requests.
Between December 2017 and January 2018, Petitioner, attorney Troy Rosasco, made a series of requests to the Fire District, its Board of Commissioners, and its Records Access Officer pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law (F.O.I.L.) for over 40 categories of records spanning years. According to Rosasco, the purpose of his requests was to provide the public with information concerning a proposal to sell the fire district’s 100-year-old firehouse on Route 25A to the St. James Fire Department. (The sale is the subject of a referendum on June 19, 2018.) In March, Rosasco commenced a special proceeding pursuant to Article 78 seeking to compel the Fire District to comply with the requests, as well as pay him costs and fees.
In lieu of answering the petition, CMM’s Patrick McCormick and Richard DeMaio served a motion to dismiss, contending that the petition was moot because the Fire District responded timely under F.O.I.L. to the voluminous requests – and that it did so notwithstanding that Rosasco had made multiple overlapping and duplicative requests with conflicting instructions and modifications. Upon review of CMM’s detailed motion papers, the Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Berland, A.J.S.C.) found that the Fire District responded timely, “notwithstanding the confusion and inconsistencies of position engendered by [Rosasco] and his counsel.” On multiple occasions, the Fire District had produced hundreds of pages of documents responsive to Rosasco’s requests. The Court found that “the Fire District addressed [Rosasco’s] series of broad and complicated requests as soon as each was received and began working on its response to those requests… promptly and diligently.”
This latest victory demonstrates why so many Long Island municipalities turn to CMM for guidance and experienced counsel when facing their most critical disputes. Learn more about our municipal liability practice here and contact us at (631) 738-9100.