JACKSON – The Township Council has authorized a $30,000 settlement in regard to litigation that had been filed against the municipality.
The litigation was filed by Steven Wronko of Spotswood after he requested copies of all of Jackson’s attorney invoices from Jan. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2015.
When he was denied access to those records, Wronko filed a lawsuit in state Superior Court against Jackson and Township Clerk Ann Marie Eden. He alleged that the denial of the records he sought was contrary to the state’s Open Public Records Act.
Wronko’s lawsuit asserted the township denied his request for the documents because he did not identify a specific case or matter. A Superior Court judge dismissed the complaint.
Wronko appealed to the Appellate Division, where judges reversed the Superior Court and determined the township’s denial of access to the attorney invoices was wrong and that under the law, a requestor who prevails in court is entitled to attorney’s fees.
Wronko was represented by attorney C.J. Griffin of the firm Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, PC. On Feb. 13, council members voted 2-1 to authorize the $30,000 settlement with Wronko.
Council President Ken Bressi and Councilman Scott Martin voted yes on the resolution. Councilman Robert Nixon voted no. Councilman Barry Calogero and Councilwoman Ann Updegrave were absent.
“This all stemmed from a request for information to the municipal clerk and I believe the clerk was correct in requesting more information from the individual who was looking for information. It was a standard request (for the person) to specify what (he) was looking for,” Nixon said.
The councilman described Wronko’s request for a year’s worth of attorney invoices as being overly broad.
“The clerk was not being antagonistic trying to deny records. The clerk was just (asking for more specifics on the request for information) and I do not think that was an inappropriate request” from the clerk, Nixon said.
He said he had a problem with the way that the case was decided because it was “an overly broad decision about an overly broad request for information.”