A citizen spent $50,000 of her own money to bring a lawsuit against Chattanooga’s industrial development board, and won.
Hamilton County Chancellor Frank Brown says the board violated the Tennessee Open Meetings Act when it approved a $9 million deal for developers of a golf course community. The judge’s ruling voids the deal.
This is the second lawsuit that we’ve shared on TCOG’s blog in recent days on citizen lawsuits involving economic development, alleging violations of the Sunshine Law and operating in secrecy. Citizens in Greene County allege Open Meetings violations in bringing to town a company that wants to make liquid ammonium nitrate used in industrial explosives.
Read the Times Free Press story here. The citizen is emboldened and wants to form a watchdog group to look at other economic development deal-making.
Interestingly, the judge in this case, Brown, was the same one who was overruled twice on appeal in a public records lawsuit by Rebecca Little earlier this year — the one in which the city had to pay Little $71K in attorneys fees — and also the one who recently tried to seal job applications after an Open Record request from Chattanooga Times Free Press.
John Konvalinka with Grant Konvalinka and Harrison represented the citizen. This is the same firm that represented Little.
Here is the judge’s order.