Louisiana Record

Monday, October 14, 2019

Shreveport Caddo Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission alleged to have not responded to lawyer's records request

By Shanice Harris | Mar 13, 2017

SHREVEPORT – A lawsuit was filed by John E. Settle Jr. against Shreveport Caddo Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission and its Executive Director Mark Sweeney in Caddo Parish Court in January.

The suit, which was filed earlier this year, is a petition that revolves around public requests for renovations to the MPC offices. These requests date back to 2014, and allegedly have not been handled.

Settle Jr., a local attorney, has brought forward the claim as an active citizen and government worker. Settle Jr. sent a request to Sweeney/MPC on Dec. 7 asking for copies of all invoices and/or receipts for all materials that were purchased to remodel and furnish the updating of the MPC offices since Sweeney’s appointment. In response to the request, Sweeney sent an email of said receipts that totaled less than $3,000.

Just two days later, Shreveport City Attorney William Bradford asked for the same documents, but Bradford’s response showed a discrepancy of over $20,000 – much different from the original response. Because of this, Settle Jr. resubmitted the request and noticed an $80,000 difference between the responses.

“The issue was initial compliance with La. Public Records Act and his failure to do so this is the issue – not the amount of money he spent but on strict compliance with a very important law,” Settle Jr. told The Louisiana Record.

Settle Jr. believes he will be victorious in the lawsuit.

“I do expect to win the case,” Settle said. “I do not know what Sweeney’s excuse will be for not full compliance the first time.”

He will be representing himself during the trial. This isn’t Settle's first time engaging in these types of lawsuits. He filed his first in Louisiana several years ago. He has been successful in all of them.

In order for MC and Sweeney to be successful, they will have to prove reason on why they do not have to pay Settle Jr. for damages on failure to respond to the public records request.

The case has not been set for trial, as of yet. Settle Jr. will need to take his deposition first before the courts can set a trial.

“Damages are set forth by the stature up to a $100 a day for time between his first response to PRR and his second and court costs,” Settle Jr. said. “All I am seeking is a finding of no basis to fully comply and court costs then I will ask the Caddo Parish Sheriff Office to investigate for criminal violation –failure to comply with La. Public Records Act is a crime.”

Settle Jr., hopes to take his deposition by the end of the month of March.

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Shreveport Caddo Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission