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Destroyed records lead to damages

Jessica Cuffman • Sep 23, 2013 at 11:50 AM

In 2010, Tod Wagner sued Huron County Commissioners and the Huron County Airport Authority for what he believed were delayed responses to public records requests — and evidence that other public records had been wrongfully destroyed, according to court documents.

Wagner, whose wife Debbie Lake-Wagner, was a former airport authority board member, first submitted the records requests in October 2010.

He requested multiple documents and audio recordings, including an easement between Huron County and Summit Motorsports Park, “Veeder Root” reports and reports of fuel sales at the airport, and audio tape records of three years of commissioners meetings and 15 years of Airport Authority meetings.

He received many of those documents and a chance to review many of those tapes, but several also were not available because the Airport Authority claimed they had been destroyed per a 2010 records retention policy.

The case went to a two-day trial in Huron County Common Pleas Court. When the court ruled in favor of the county and the airport authority, Wagner appealed.

In a recent decision, the court ruled Wagner is entitled to damages in regard to Veeder Root reports that were wrongfully destroyed.

The airport authority had cited a December 2010 retention schedule that allowed records to be destroyed after three years.

But that retention schedule was adopted after the reports were destroyed, according to the decision by the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals.

Wagner could be owed up to $1,000 for each record that was wrongfully destroyed. Another part of the case will also go back to Huron County for further rulings.

A judge had originally ruled Wagner hadn’t properly submitted a request to review the last 15 years of audio tapes from airport authority meeting.

The appeals court disagreed and said he had, sending that part of the case back to Huron County for a second review.

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