By Steve Plunkett
The public records war between the town and Martin O’Boyle rages on; a proposed settlement signed by Gulf Stream’s litigious resident was withdrawn before town commissioners could consider it.
The proposal would have dismissed nine of 11 court cases between O’Boyle and Gulf Stream. A lawsuit over police radio transmissions that an appellate court recently upheld in O’Boyle’s favor was excluded, as was an O’Boyle lawsuit seeking “all communications and public records” former Vice Mayor Robert Ganger sent or received over a 15-month period. Commissioners were scheduled to discuss the offer at their Jan. 12 meeting.
Mayor Scott Morgan, who has negotiated with O’Boyle for months, said he was not impressed with the terms.
“I was not inclined to approve it anyway,” Morgan said. “Why he withdrew it I do not know.”
Two days before the meeting, O’Boyle, who was celebrating the new year at his home in West Virginia, said he was not aware the document was on the commission’s agenda.
“To settle this thing with Gulf Stream would be the greatest gift a man could have. It’s gone on way too far,” O’Boyle said then.
Like last June’s deal with resident Chris O’Hare dismissing 36 legal actions, neither side would have paid the other’s attorney’s fees in the nine cases. Also similarly, the proposed settlement would have required O’Boyle and related parties such as his Citizens Awareness Foundation Inc. to withdraw all pending requests for public records and to pay a $250 “facilitation fee” upfront with any future requests.
But Morgan said the proposal left out other litigation by Citizens Awareness Foundation and also would have limited legal challenges the town could make.
Meanwhile, the 4th District Court of Appeal changed its Nov. 2 opinion awarding appellate attorney’s fees to O’Boyle in the police records case. His attorney can claim only the fees authorized by the state’s Public Records Act and not extra fees as a sanction against the town, the District Court said.
O’Boyle’s lawyers have filed documents with the Circuit Court seeking more than $575,000. The town argues they should get perhaps $20,000 because most of their work was done after Gulf Stream gave O’Boyle the records.
O’Boyle and O’Hare flooded Gulf Stream with requests for public records starting in August 2013. In the following six months, the town received more than 700 requests, court documents show.
In July 2013, before the current war began, Gulf Stream paid O’Boyle $180,000 to settle approximately 16 lawsuits and about 400 requests for public records he filed after he was denied variances for projects at his home on Hidden Harbour Drive.