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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA

CITIZENS FOR SUNSHINE, a Florida not-for-profit corporation, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF GROVELAND, a Florida municaplity, JAMES GEARHART, and TIM LOUCKS, Defendants. ___________________________________/ COMPLAINT SEEKING DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF Plaintiff, CITIZENS FOR SUNSHINE, INC., ("Citizens") through counsel, sues defendants, CITY OF GROVELAND, a Florida municipality, JAMES GEARHART, and TIM LOUCKS, and alleges: INTRODUCTION This is an action under Article I, Sec. 24(b), of the Florida Constitution and section 286.011, Florida Statutes, the Government-in-the-Sunshine Law ("Sunshine Law") against the City of Groveland, its Mayor and Vice Mayor seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The Mayor and Vice Mayor met a third individual in a grocery store parking lot and had discussions about police dispatching, which was then under consideration before the city council to outsource to the Lake County Sheriffs Office. These discussions were not noticed to the public and violate the Sunshine Law. CASE NO.

JURISDICTION 1. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to Art. I, 24(b), Fla. Const.; Art. V,

Sec. 20(c)(3), Fla. Const.; 26.012(2)(e) and (3), Fla. Stat.; and 286.011(4), Fla. Stat. 2. Venue lies in Lake County, Florida, because the acts for which suit is

brought have occurred or are occurring in Lake County, Florida, and Defendants are located within Lake County, Florida. 3. Plaintiff, Citizens for Sunshine, Inc., (Citizens), is a non-profit

corporation and a citizen within the State of Florida within the meaning of 286.011, Florida Statutes. The purpose and mission of Citizens is to promote and enforce

compliance with Floridas open-government laws under Art. I, 24, of the Florida Constitution, and chapters 119 and 286, Florida Statutes. Since 2008, Citizens has been involved in numerous legal actions in the trial and appellate courts throughout the State of Florida, both as a party and as amicus curiae. Corporations are not precluded from pursuing the public's statutory remedy on behalf of the public's interest in open government. See Silver Exp. Co. v. Dist. Bd. of Lower Tribunal Trustees of Miami-Dade Cmty. Coll., 691 So. 2d 1099, 1101 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997). The statute vindicates a public policy and Citizens interests lie in protection of Floridas open government laws. No special injury is required for standing to maintain an action under 286.011, Florida Statutes. See Godheim v. City of Tampa, 426 So. 2d 1084, 1088 (Fla. 2d DCA 1983). 4. Defendant, City of Groveland, Florida, (City) is Florida municipal

organization granted a Charter by the legislature in 1922. Under Sec. 3.01 of its Charter, all legislative powers are vested in a five-member city council (city council). The city

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council is a joint collegial body and board within the meaning of Art. I, 24(b), Fla. Const., and 286.011, Fla. Stat. 5. James Gearhart is an elected member of and Mayor of the city council.

He is sued in his individual capacity. 6. Tim Loucks is an elected member of and Vice Mayor of the city council.

He is sued in his individual capacity. FACTS 7. The City operates a Communications Department which handles dispatch

calls for service, via police radio to the officers in the field coordinating responses to the citizens of Groveland that are in need of assistance. Communication officers also provide general information to citizens by phone and in person, serve as the records custodians for the records division for the Police Department, and provides the mandatory reports required by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 8. On March 4, 2013, the city council listened to a presentation on a lease

purchase agreement for software relating to police dispatch operations support. The city council directed the city manager to work with the Police Department on other offers. 9. During March and April 2013, Defendant Gearhart initiated discussions

with the City Manager and Police Chief on the potential for transferring the City of Groveland's dispatch services to the Lake County Sheriffs Office Emergency Operations Center. 10. On May 20, 2013, Defendant Gearhart asked during a city council

meeting whether other members of the city council were interested in listening to a

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proposal about the Lake County Sheriffs Office taking over dispatch operations (the proposal). 11. Each council member stated during the meeting of May 20, 2013, that they

had been contacted about the proposal. The consensus of the city council was to hear the proposal from the Lake County Sheriffs Office about transferring communications services. The City Manager and Police Chief were asked to collect information on the cost and function and bring the matter back to the city council. 12. On June 20, 2013, Defendants Gearhart and Loucks met in the parking lot

of a grocery store and then approached Sgt. George Penvose who was also in the parking lot. 13. After confronting Sgt. Penvose, Defendants Gearhart and Loucks began to

talk about official city business that was then-pending before the city council. 14. Specifically, Defendants Gearhart and Loucks jointly asked Sgt. Penvose

questions about police dispatching and the proposal by the Lake County Sheriffs Office to take over dispatch operations. 15. At the time of this meeting in the parking lot, Defendants Gearhart and

Loucks knew that the issue of police dispatching and the proposal from the Lake County Sheriffs Office was then pending before the city council and was scheduled to be heard at a meeting of the city council in the foreseeable future. 16. The city council agenda for July 15, 2013, listed an item titled Police

Department Dispatch Functional and Cost Analysis. 17. On July 15, 2013, the city council had extensive discussions about the

proposal from the Lake County Sheriffs Office. The City Manager was directed to bring

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back to the city council an updated cost analysis to show the true loaded cost of providing in-house dispatching services. 18. On August 5, 2013, the city council considered whether it should take up

for discussion an item related to police dispatch operations. The city council agreed to table the discussion until the next meeting. 19. The city council agenda for August 19, 2013, listed an item titled Police

Department Dispatch Analysis. 20. At the August 19, 2013 city council meeting, the city council approved a

motion to accept Lake County Sheriffs Office proposal for conducting dispatch operations. 21. At the time of meeting in the grocery store parking lot on June 20, 2013,

Defendants Gearhart and Loucks knew or reasonably should have known that it was foreseeable that matters pertaining to the proposal of the Lake County Sheriffs Office taking over dispatch operations was pending or would be coming before the city council. 22. The meeting at the grocery store parking lot was not noticed to the public

and occurred outside the record of any official city council proceeding. 23. Plaintiff has retained the undersigned to bring this action and has agreed to

pay a reasonable attorneys fee for same. 24. Plaintiff has incurred costs for bringing this action. COUNT I 25. 26. Plaintiff repeats paragraphs 1 through 24 as if fully set forth herein. This is an action against the City seeking declaratory and injunctive relief

under art. I, sec. 24(b), Fla. Const., and section 286.011, Florida Statutes.

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27.

The city council is required by law to provide reasonable notice of all

discussions, meetings, comments and proceedings between two or more of its members. 28. The meeting and discussion between Defendants Gearhart and Loucks that

occurred in the grocery store parking lot on June 20, 2013, was a meeting at which the official business of the city council was discussed, to wit: a proposal by the Lake County Sheriffs Office to take over police dispatch operations. 29. The city council did not provide reasonable notice to the public of the

meeting, discussions and comments between two or more council members held in the parking lot of the grocery store that occurred on June 20, 2013. 30. Plaintiff and the public have been irreparably harmed by the failure of the

city council to provide reasonable notice of the discussions and comments between two or more city council members that occurred on June 20, 2013. 31. By failing to provide the public with reasonable notice of the discussions

and comments of two or more city council members, the city council violated the Sunshine Law. 32. The unnoticed discussions and comments between two or more city

council members that occurred on June 20, 2013, tainted the proceedings held on July 15, 2013, and August 19, 2013, as the public was not aware of the details of the discussions and comments between two or more city council members on the proposal by the Lake County Sheriffs Office relating to proposal to take over dispatch operations. 33. this action. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for the following relief: Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs for prosecuting

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A.

a declaration that the meeting and discussions between Defendants

Gearhart and Loucks that occurred in the grocery store parking lot on June 20, 2013, was a meeting at which the official business of the city council was discussed, to wit: a proposal by the Lake County Sheriffs Office to take over police dispatch operations. B. a declaration that the city council failed to provide reasonable notice to the

public of the meeting, discussions and comments of two or more of its members held on June 20, 2013; C. enjoining the city council, its agents, and all other persons acting in

concert who are responsible for carrying out the city councils actions, from implementing any action of the city council taken at the meeting held on July 15, 2013, August 19, 2013, including any contractual arrangements with the Lake County Sheriffs Office relating to proposal to take over dispatch operations; D. and E. any other relief the Court deems just and proper. COUNT II 34. 35. Plaintiff repeats paragraphs 1 through 24 as if fully set forth herein. This is an action against Defendants Gearhart and Loucks seeking awarding attorney fees and costs to Plaintiff for prosecuting this action;

declaratory and injunctive relief under art. I, sec. 24(b), Fla. Const., and section 286.011, Florida Statutes. 36. As members of the city council, Defendants Gearhart and Loucks are

required by law to provide reasonable notice of their discussions and meetings relating to official city business.

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37.

The meeting and discussion between Defendants Gearhart and Loucks that

occurred in the grocery store parking lot on June 20, 2013, was a meeting at which the official business of the city council was discussed, to wit: a proposal by the Lake County Sheriffs Office to take over police dispatch operations. 38. Defendants Gearhart and Loucks did not provide reasonable notice to the

public of their discussions and meetings held in the grocery store parking lot on June 20, 2013, relating to the proposal by the Lake County Sheriffs Office to take over police dispatch operations. 39. Plaintiff and the public have been irreparably harmed by the failure of

Defendants Gearhart and Loucks to provide reasonable notice of their discussions and meetings. 40. By failing to provide the public with reasonable notice, the discussions

and meetings of Defendants Gearhart and Loucks violated the Sunshine Law. 41. The unnoticed discussions and comments between Defendants Gearhart

and Loucks that occurred in the grocery store parking lot on June 20, 2013, tainted the proceedings held on July 15, 2013, and August 19, 2013, as the public was not aware of the details of the discussions and comments between two or more city council members on the proposal by the Lake County Sheriffs Office relating to proposal to take over dispatch operations. 42. this action. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for the following relief: Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs for prosecuting

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A.

a declaration that the meeting and discussion between Defendants

Gearhart and Loucks that occurred in the grocery store parking lot on June 20, 2013, was a meeting at which the official business of the city council was discussed, to wit: a proposal by the Lake County Sheriffs Office to take over police dispatch operations. B. a declaration that the city council failed to provide reasonable notice to the

public of the meeting, discussions and comments of two or more of its members held on June 20, 2013; C. enjoining the city council, its agents, and all other persons acting in

concert who are responsible for carrying out the city councils actions, from implementing any action of the city council taken at the meeting held on July 15, 2013, August 19, 2013, including any contractual arrangements with the Lake County Sheriffs Office relating to proposal to take over dispatch operations; D. and E. any other relief the Court deems just and proper. Respectfully submitted, awarding attorney fees and costs to Plaintiff for prosecuting this action;

/s Andrea Flynn Mogensen____________________ ANDREA FLYNN MOGENSEN, Esquire The Law Office of Andrea Flynn Mogensen, P.A. 200 South Washington Boulevard, Suite 7 Sarasota FL 34236 Telephone: 941.955.1066 Facsimile: 941.866.7323 Florida Bar No. 0549681 amogensen@sunshinelitigation.com Attorney for Plaintiff

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