Naples Daily News: Naples activist drops lawsuit against Collier Commission claiming Sunshine Law violation for Jackson Lab tour
BY LIZ FREEMAN
COLLIER COUNTY — A Naples man has dropped his lawsuit against the Collier County Commission which argued a Sunshine Law violation occurred when two commissioners traveled to Maine last summer to tour Jackson Laboratory.
The lawsuit was filed by John Lundin, who said the commission violated the public meetings law when it allowed Commissioners Donna Fiala and Jim Coletta to make the two-day trip last July for a “fact finding tour.” The lawsuit said the board knew they would be violating the law when they approved the two commissioners’ trips in advance last June.
Lundin’s lawyer, Steve Carta, of Fort Myers, argued the trip constituted a meeting of the board and therefore required a public notice and minutes. Carta said there had been similar cases where the courts ruled fact-finding trips of public officials were violations of the law. He cited a 2008 decision by the Fifth District Court of Appeal when members of the Seminole School Board took a bus trip for school rezoning purposes.
Lundin said in an e-mail that the penalty, or “cure,” for the violation is for board decisions regarding Jackson to be declared void, but that is no longer applicable since the project has been halted.