McCutchen files another lawsuit against city for violating FOIA laws over info request again
Fort Smith Attorney Joey McCutchen filed suit in Sebastian County Circuit Court against the City of Fort Smith again today.
The Complaint, brought under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), arises following two separate FOIA requests submitted to City Administrator Carl Geffken and Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman requesting, in part, information regarding the income and expenditures of the Fort Smith City Sales Tax Fund, dedicated for the use for City roads, streets and bridges, and associated drainage.
Geffken acknowledged receipt of the FOIA Requests and copied City attorneys Jerry Canfield and Colby Roe on the email. When none of the requested documents were provided, and neither Geffken, Dingman, Canfield, or Roe contacted Mr. McCutchen regarding the requests or the need for additional time to provide a response after the three business day time period set by statute to respond had expired, the lawsuit was filed.
Mr. McCutchen was forced to file another FOIA lawsuit on June 4, 2021, due to the City's failure to timely produce the contents of the City of Fort Smith Board of Directors email group. Circuit Court Judge Gunner Delay ruled that the City violated FOIA in that case by not producing the requested documents and ordered the City to pay attorneys' fees.
"The City has a pattern of refusing to process FOIA requests and produce public records. It's a misdemeanor to negligently violate FOIA and I believe that the City's failure to again produce records not only rises to the level of negligence but also rises to the level of being obstructive," said McCutchen. "The leadings authorities on this issue have said that ‘the purpose of Freedom of Information statutes is access not retaliation.”
You can read the text of the complaint by clicking this link:
The lawsuit is filed in front of Circuit Judge Dianna Ladd and seeks an immediate hearing.