The City of Martin filed its response this month to a lawsuit filed against the city by business owner Terry Thornsberry
Thornberry, represented by Prestonsburg Attorney Lee Smith, sued the city in Floyd Circuit Court on Oct. 16, seeking the enforcement of a decision issued in August by the Kentucky Attorney General’s office, in which that agency ruled that Martin violated the Open Records Act.
On Nov. 13, Smith also filed a motion asking the judge to “take allegations” of the petition as “true” because the City of Martin had not responded to the lawsuit yet.
The following day, Martin City Attorney Doug Adams filed a response to complaint, denying allegations made in the lawsuit and asking the court to dismiss it.
Adams reported in the filing that the City of Martin is “without sufficient knowledge or information to either admit or deny” allegations about the open records requests and statements about the Kentucky Attorney General’s response to the matter — copies of which were filed along with the lawsuit and are available online.
Thornsberry has requested that the Floyd Circuit Court issue an injunction against the city, to rule Martin’s failure to respond was “willful” and in violation of state law and he has requested an award of his costs, which included attorney fees and $25 per day for each open records request that was denied. Martin, however, in its response, denied the allegations and statements made by Thornsberry in the lawsuit and asked the court to deny Thornsberry’s request for an injunction and that the complaint be dismissed.
Thornsberry filed requests for public records with Martin on July 10 and has not received a response from the city. His requests sought copies of all credit card statement issued since Jan. 2018 for employees of Martin and its agencies, information about employment and the salary of tourism chairman Kris Rudder, a list of municipal road aid money the city received since 2016 and projects funded by that road aid, information about a city vendor, C&L Consultants, copies of the city’s federal tax withholding documents for employees and monthly water reports from the city water service.
After receiving no response, Thornsberry filed an appeal with the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, and that office issued an Open Records Decision on Aug. 26, ruling that Martin violated the Open Records Act.
The attorney general ruled in that decision that Martin “subverted the intent” of the Open Records Act by failing to respond to Thornsberry’s request, failing to provide a detailed explanation for the cause for the delay and failing to provide a date in which the records would be available.
“The city must immediately make arrangements to produce the requested records to (Thornsberry),” the Attorney General decision stated.
Martin did not respond to the Attorney General’s request for comment during that appeal, as well as several other appeals the city has been a part of this year.
The city council discussed pending and proposed litigation and an employee matter in closed session during a Nov. 26 meeting.