Defendants fight Sunshine lawsuit decision

The team is gathering for the next challenge.

But this time it is down one player.

In a civil lawsuit that began in August 2017 and was decided July 19 in favor of Bradenton Beach and ex-Mayor Jack Clarke, Judge Edward Nicholas ruled that six former city board members violated Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law by discussing city matters at meetings of the now-defunct neighborhood organization Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach, and through the exchange of emails, texts and phone calls.

Defendants Reed Mapes, Tjet Martin and Bill and Rose Vincent Sept. 5 joined defendant John Metz’s appeal to the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal fighting the declaratory judgement.

Defendant Patty Shay opted not to join the other defendants in appealing the ruling.

Shay said Sept. 5 that she could not afford the costs associated with the appeal. Also, she is unsure of the grounds.

“The judge made his decision,” she said. “I don’t want to invest the time anymore. I’ll take my chances.”

Additionally, Shay said she had been willing to take the settlement twice offered by the city to the defendants to end the lawsuit, which required a collective admission of guilt and payment of $500 fee each. “I was willing to sign it and end it,” she said. “But we all had to sign it, even though we were not co-defendants.”

Martin said she is appealing because she is innocent.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “I can’t live with this accusation hanging over my head. We need to at least try.”

As of Sept. 5, the city’s costs and fees for the suit exceed $400,000.

In June, Metz said his costs were nearly $200,000.

At a Sept. 5 city commission meeting, city attorney Ricinda Perry recommended attorney Steve Chase of Sarasota for the appeal, and offered to provide his rates to the commission.

The hearing for fees and costs, previously set for Oct. 4, was postponed to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.