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Local man seeks millions in public records case

Scott Seitz2 • Mar 7, 2014 at 8:55 PM

A public records case involving the Huron County Airport Authority has moved to a new phase.

Local resident Tod Wagner filed suit against the airport and Huron County commissioners in 2010, claiming certain public records he'd requested had been destroyed or lost.

Wagner, through his attorney Bill Owens, is requesting at least $3 million, according to court documents.

In the three-plus years since the lawsuit has been filed, the court ruled the county commissioners were cleared of any wrongdoing involving public records requests and the airport.

On Friday, the case was back in Huron County Common Pleas Court.

A number of issues still have to be determined, including what the damages could ultimately be.

Since the case was filed, the law has changed limiting damages in cases such as this to $10,000.

"This case could be precedent-setting in the state of Ohio," said Carl Essex, airport board president. "The new law also states attorney fees are discretionary to the court."

Essex said the court could determine if a settlement is to paid under the former or current law.

On Friday, the court gave parties until March 28 to come up with a no more than 10 page "Proposed Finding of Fact and Conclusion of Law" regarding this public records case. Cases may be cited, but if cited must be included. The judge will not count pages of case law against the assigned maximum of 10 pages, according to Essex.

"The judge didn't want the two sides pontificating 30 pages long," Essex said. "That's why it's limited to 10 pages."

Owens will attempt to justify request for attorney fees in excess of $3 million based on a 40 percent contingent agreement with Wagner, covering a loss of more than 3,000 destroyed or "lost" public records early in 2009 to late in 2010, Essex stated.

Essex said once the judge receives the two 10-page briefs March 28, it could take another 30 days to review.

Essex added Daivia Kasper, assistant county prosecutor, will draft the 10-page brief on behalf of the airport.

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