NEW ALBANY — Three Floyd County residents have filed a civil lawsuit against the City of New Albany, for failing to fulfill open records requests.
The lawsuit was filed by Irvin Stumler, Stephen Roberts and Heather Peters in Floyd County Superior Court No. 2. The suit comes following the opinion of Public Access Counselor Luke Britt that the city violated the Access to Public Records law.
The trio filed the suit Friday. The requests for information covered a variety of topics, including legal fees incurred or paid by the City of New Albany, electronic correspondence and revenue and expenses of the River Run Family Water Park.
“What is at play here goes far beyond individuals request for information. At its core, it is all about the ideal of open and transparent government,” states a news release from the three. “What brings us here today is a consistent pattern of failing to acknowledge, let alone respond, to a citizen’s inquiry into the affairs of local government.”
The records requests were submitted in August. After not having their requests acknowledged, they sought a formal opinion from the Public Access Counselor in October. Britt’s formal opinion was issued Wednesday, prompting the three to file the lawsuit.
Mike Hall, a spokesman for the city, said city controller Linda Moeller sent the city’s response to the records requests.
A public records request is considered denied if there’s no response from the public agency within seven days of receiving the request, according to Indiana code. But according to code, a denial of a written records request must be in writing and cite the statutory justification for the denial. The lack of this response constitutes a violation of the Access to Public Records Act.
New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan released a statement following the suit being filed.
“We are aware that former political opponents and two Floyds Knobs residents are suing the city, just days before Election Day. We have provided a response to the Public Access Counselor’s opinion, and we greatly look forward to both the court hearing and Election Day,” Gahan said in the statement.