If you support transparency and accountability in government, please consider contributing to legal fees.
In September 2018, council members of Satellite Beach violated the Sunshine Law, which mandates that government business must be conducted in public. When citizens arrived at the meeting, they were met by police officers who informed them that it was a "private meeting" and escorted them out. The meeting was initially advertised as a public "workshop" but was abruptly canceled by the City on the day of the meeting.
The meeting was held to discuss PFAS contamination and cancer cluster concerns. Unfortunately, only a few citizens were allowed to attend, while the Council's selective decision excluded others. As a result, a group of residents filed a legal case because they were prevented from participating.
Multiple sources, including video footage, photos, documents, and testimonies from several residents, professionals, and media outlets, confirm that three elected officials were in attendance. The photographic evidence clearly shows the three officials together behind closed doors. The Sunshine Law ensures that meetings involving "official business by any agency" are accessible to the public. It prohibits public officials from holding private meetings to discuss any matter on which the public board or commission will take foreseeable action.
According to public records, government officials have admitted to trying to bypass the sunshine law by rotating officials during meetings willing to violate the constitutional right of access. Such actions only serve to diminish trust in the government.
It has been discovered that PFAS chemicals were utilized at Patrick Space Force Base (previously known as Air Force Base), leading to the detection of these chemicals in the groundwater of Satellite Beach City. Following the open meetings law, the public should have been allowed to attend the meeting regarding PFAS contamination.
Unfortunately, Brevard County Judge Paulk dismissed the case after 18 months. Due to pandemic restrictions, the hearing was conducted over the phone, and government attorneys repeatedly postponed it while modifying and updating paperwork. Due to this decision, the plaintiffs could not present their evidence or witnesses in court.
The plaintiffs decided to challenge the court's ruling, but the appellate court supported Judge Paulk's decision to dismiss the case. However, the court did not provide any explanation for its decision. The court also ruled that the lawsuit was not frivolous or filed in bad faith and rejected the City's request for attorneys' fees and costs filed on March 8, 2022.
However, instead of dropping the case, they are now pursuing the victims for payment of their legal fees, even though their rights were violated. By continuing this legal battle and returning to the lower court, the government is creating a financial burden for the affected families.
Scientific testing, studies, medical screening guidance, a FUDS designation, new drinking water advisory levels, and national discussions have all substantiated the plaintiff's concerns regarding water contamination in 2018.
To learn more about this case, visit Sunshine Case Website
To learn more about the work cancer survivors are doing, visit Fight for Zero Official Website
Can't contribute? Please sign this petition: https://chng.it/pZdHBknvjb
All legal expenses go to Vidoni Law
959 N Cocoa Blvd #5
Cocoa, Florida 32922
- If you write a check, put "FHC Sunshine Case" in the memo
- The attorney is charging a flat fee of $7,000 to represent us in this case, and that does not include time spent after the City's first hearing on their motion for fees and if the city is awarded those fees.