KIMBERLY F. BROWN OF THE BROWN REPORT NEWSPAPER Requester
CITY OF CLEVELAND Respondent
to S.C. Reporter 6/28/19
PATRICK M. MCGRATH, JUDGE
Respondent city of Cleveland (City) objects to a special
master's report and recommendation (R&R) issued on
March 28, 2019.
Requester Kimberly F. Brown (Brown) of the Brown Report
Newspaper sued the City under R.C. 2743.75(D), alleging that
the City had failed to respond to a request for "the
meeting records from Councilperson Joe Jones with Cloverside
residents." (Complaint.) Brown sought "the date of
the meeting, the agenda, the attendance sheet and a clear
copy of the vote regarding the secondary [street] signage for
Saniyah Nicholson." (Complaint.) (Nicholson, a child,
was shot on Cloverside Avenue.)
The court appointed an attorney as a special master in the
cause. The special master referred the case to mediation.
After mediation failed to successfully resolve all disputed
issues between the parties, the court returned the case to
the special master's docket.
The City responded to Brown's complaint and moved for
relief pursuant to Civ.R. 12(B)(6) and (C). The special
master ordered the City to submit supplemental pleadings and
to file certain records under seal. On March 28, 2019, the
special master issued a R&R, wherein (1) he recommended
the denial of the City's motion to dismiss, (2) he found
clear and convincing evidence to support a conclusion that
street addresses of attendees to a Cloverside residents'
meeting satisfied the statutory definition of
"records" contained in R.C. 149.011(G), and (3) he
found that telephone numbers and email addresses of attendees
may be redacted. (R&R, 4, 8.) The special master urged
the court to issue an order (1) that would grant "the
claim for disclosure of the meeting sign-in sheets with only
telephone numbers and email addresses redacted," (2)
that would find that Brown's claims "are otherwise
moot;" and (3) that would specify that Brown is entitled
to recover from the City the costs associated with the
action, including the twenty-five-dollar filing fee.
Seven business days after the City received a copy of the
R&R, the City, through counsel, filed written objections.
In a certificate of service accompanying the objections, the
City's counsel certified that she sent a copy of the
objections "via regular mail" to Brown.
Brown has not filed a timely response to the City's
Law and Analysis
2743.75(F)(2) governs objections to a special master's
R&R issued under R.C. 2743.75. Pursuant to R.C.
2743.75(F)(2), either party "may object to the report
and recommendation within seven business days after receiving
the report and recommendation by filing a written objection
with the clerk and sending a copy to the other party by
certified mail, return receipt requested. * * * If either
party timely objects, the other party may file with the clerk
a response within seven business days after receiving the
objection and send a copy of the response to the objecting
party by certified mail, return receipt requested. The court,
within seven business days after the response to the
objection is filed, shall issue a final order that adopts,
modifies, or rejects the report and recommendation."
review, the court finds that the City's objections are
timely filed, but the objections are procedurally irregular
because the City failed to send a copy of its objections to
Brown "by certified mail, return receipt
requested," as required by R.C. 2743.75(F)(2).
Notwithstanding the procedural irregularity of the City's
objections, the court will consider the objections in the
interest of justice.
City presents two objections for the court's
No. 1: "Special Master's Report and Recommendation
should not be adopted by this Court because the addresses on
the sign in sheet do not constitute a public record and