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Judge rules local resident to receive 'zero' in public records case

Scott Seitz2 • May 20, 2014 at 5:07 PM

A visiting judge has ruled a local man seeking millions in a public records case will receive nothing.

Local resident Tod Wagner had sued the Huron County Airport Authority for about $3 million, claiming public records he had requested were either not made available to him or had been destroyed.

Wagner was represented by Norwalk attorney Bill Owens.

The case had made its way through a number of courts since 2010.

Visiting Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas J. Pokorny ruled "in order for a party to recover, a person must be aggrieved.

"In order for Mr. Wagner to prove he is aggrieved he must show the airport authority's improper conduct infringed upon his legal rights," the judge wrote in his decision.

"Here it is abundantly clear from the record and this court's assessment of the credibility of the witnesses that Relator (Wagner) is not an aggrieved party because he retained legal counsel and entered into a contingency fee agreement then subsequently made 19 requests for public records of several public agencies," Pokorny wrote.

"After receiving several years of Veeder Root reports, (Wagner) never compared them to other records of fuel sales to determine if fuel had been stolen from the airport as he claimed occurred," Pokorny added.

"The record further establishes that (Wagner's) spouse was a 12-year member of the airport authority board and (Wagner) a plane owner and tenant of the airport," the judge added.

"The court finds that (Wagner) has requested public records with the specific desire for access to be denied and that he is only feigning an intent to access public records," the judge said. "He is, therefore, not aggrieved by the destruction of the records he requested. His request for forfeiture and attorney fees is denied."

Wagner has 30 days to appeal.

The judge also ruled the audiotapes the airport taped over from meeting to meeting did not qualify as a public record, but as only a "convenience" to the preparer of the written minutes.

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