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PR14-25B Howard v. Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority

In Howard v. Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, PR 14-25, we concluded that the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority ("RITBA") violated the APRA when it failed to comply with the Complainant's APRA request within ten (10) business days. The sole issue addressed in this supplemental finding was whether the RITBA's violation was willful and knowing, or reckless. While the RITBA acknowledged that some responsive documents were not timely provided to the Complainant, the RITBA attributed the error to two other successive and voluminous APRA requests received from the Complainant and its belief that it had provided all responsive documents. When viewed against our prior findings wherein this Department found public bodies knowingly and willfully, or recklessly, violated the APRA such that a civil lawsuit was warranted, we cannot find that the RITBA willfully and knowingly, or recklessly, violated the APRA. See International Association of Fire Fighters v. Nasonville Fire Department/District, PR 14-24; PR 14-24B and Law Offices of Michael Kelly v. City of Woonsocket, PR 13-13; PR 13-13B. While the failure to provide all responsive documents violated the APRA, see Howard, PR 14-25, considering the totality of the evidence it is difficult to conclude that RITBA's omission rose to the willful and knowing, or reckless, standard.

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