Wesley Township, IL. (ECWd) -
Wesley Township Supervisor and Board have increased litigation cost of one FOIA lawsuit by at least $300 per township resident in the past year. How do you feel about it?
We have been watching this fifth FOIA lawsuit against Wesley Township with keen interest, as apparently the township board and supervisor are intentionally driving up litigation costs, and not for the reason of defending the indefensible FOIA lawsuit, as explained (here).
The other four, one filed by ECWd because court filings by the township, responses to my FOIA request for records, and answers provided in sworn depositions did not match (we caught the township supervisor and clerk not telling the truth) - it settled for $1K in attorney fees faster than an initial court hearing could be scheduled. A second one filed in 2018 and the township settled for $4750 in attorney fees. A third one was field and settled for payment of attorney fees. A fourth one filed by now-Township Trustee Leonard McCubbin settled for $3K in attorney fees as soon as he learned he would be appointed to a vacant trustee position.
In four FOIA cases, the township demonstrated they knew how to minimize litigation costs. Now it appears, with a new township supervisor and board, they are determined to take a different route all together by driving costs up instead of minimizing them.
The fifth FOIA lawsuit:
Keep in mind, the township could have, at any time, simply produced the records and ask to settle for attorney fees (and they probably still can, but at a higher price). Their actions, indicative of some sort of retribution, are what is driving up the litigation costs. Ideally, they should have answered the FOIA requests as they came in and removed the Clerk when they found out she was not answering them, but no, they let it fester for more than 2 years, now look what they have.
- Filed on August 6, 2019
- Amended on January 31, 2020
- Township Answered on September 21, 2020
- Township filed counter-claim and third-party claim on September 21, 2020
- 28 months after the initial filing and 22 months after the filing of the amended complaint, Motions for Summary Judgment are filed by Plaintiffs
Sometime prior to the township answering the amended complaint, they were tendered a settlement offer of $60K. The township declined to settle and offered a $20K settlement paid out over 20 years. Then they answered the complaint, and filed what we believe is a frivolous counter-claim and third-party claim asking for $50K paid by Plaintiff, and offering a settlement demand if Plaintiffs pay the township $30K.
Everything in the counter-claims have been proven as lacking any facts in the various resulting FOIA requests, depositions, discovery, and court filings since the counter-claim were filed. Supervisor Mike Medlin and the township board still refuse to dispose of the counter-claims - knowing they are simply driving up the costs that taxpayers will eventually be forced to pay.
This takes us to the present FOIA lawsuit:
- there is essentially no defense to knowingly not answering FOIA requests
- continuing with fighting a FOIA lawsuit, for the purpose of "letting everybody in the state find out what happened," as Supervisor Medlin put it, does an extreme injustice to the taxpaying residents of the township (and the court system)
Contrary to information put out by the township and others, this FOIA lawsuit is about 27 unanswered FOIA requests, submitted to the township over a 20-month period. That equals an average of 1.35 FOIA requests per month, or about 4 FOIA requests every 3 months.
We can't help but think former Speaker Madigan had this type of scenario in mind when he introduced the FOIA amendment to provide for civil penalties (read excerpt here).
According to rockethomes.com, Wesley Township had 2236 residents in the last census.
The first settlement offer to the township was $60K - which is $26.83 per township resident. The township declined with a ridiculous counter offer.
Their stubbornness and self-pride earned them a Motion for Summary Judgment asking for $740K + attorney fees and costs, which equals approximately $330.95 per township resident. Add the attorney fees and costs, and that price will increase probably another $100 per resident.
The Supervisor and Board have increased the cost to taxpayers by more than $300 per resident since the initial settlement offer, because of "letting everybody in the state find out what happened," using "an incredible amount of evidence" which doesn't actually exist and will be explained in a future article.
This chart shows the potential differences in cost per resident.
You should thank your township supervisor and board members for their generosity with your hard-earned money.