FOIA requester sues Caseyville seeking fees, costs and civil penalites

Ann Maher Apr. 19, 2012, 9:12am


Belleville resident Bradley Van Hoose is suing the Village of Caseyville for attorney fees and costs associated with his fight to access copies of board meeting minutes, hotel meeting minutes, contracts, invoices and records related to the village's hotel fund.

The suit, filed April 13 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, also seeks between $7,500 and $15,000 in civil penalties for what Van Hoose claims were "willful and intentional failures" to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests he filed on three separate dates in September 2011.

Van Hoose had asked the Illinois Attorney General's office to intervene after the village denied his requests for information in October.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Feb. 3 ordered the Village to turn over documents requested by Van Hoose under FOIA.

Madigan also decided the Village violated the FOIA by treating VanHoose as a "recurrent requester," and advised Caseyville to refrain from treating him as such.

"Pursuant to the provisions of Section 11(i) of FOIA, the Court shall award the person prevailing in seeking the right to inspect or receive a copy of public records, reasonable attorney's fees and costs," Van Hoose's lawsuit states.

Van Hoose is represented by B. Jay Dowling of Sterling and Dowling in Fairview Heights.

The lawsuit also asks that the court order the village to produce all of the public records that have been "improperly withheld" from him.

Van Hoose has said that he was seeking copies of proposals for the construction of fishing docks, invoices for fishing docks, print advertising for public bids and the designated location for posting to the village's hotel and motel committee meetings.

"The village is in financial straits," VanHoose said in an earlier interview. "They spend money on things they don't have money for."

His three FOIA requests sought 18 pieces of information, he said.

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