Collier files motion to dismiss lawsuit claiming Sunshine Law violation during Jackson lab visit

Jim Coletta, Collier County Commissioner, Nick Healy, president of Ave Maria University, center, and Jeff Klatzkow, Collier County Attorney, right, look in at some mouse models bred to help scientists discover how their genes explain different diseases during The Jackson Laboratory's Discovery Days in Bar Harbor, Maine on July 17, 2010. During Tuesday's commissioners meeting, Naples activist John Lundin attempted to use this photo as evidence that Fiala might have appeared with Commissioner Jim Coletta at Jackson Laboratory, which he said was a possible Sunshine Law violation. He pointed to the clothes and appearance of the woman seen from behind in this photo and compared it to another photo of Fiala. Lundin said the woman in the background of this photo appears to be Fiala. Greg Kahn/Staff

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Jim Coletta, Collier County Commissioner, Nick Healy, president of Ave Maria University, center, and Jeff Klatzkow, Collier County Attorney, right, look in at some mouse models bred to help scientists discover how their genes explain different diseases during The Jackson Laboratory's Discovery Days in Bar Harbor, Maine on July 17, 2010. During Tuesday's commissioners meeting, Naples activist John Lundin attempted to use this photo as evidence that Fiala might have appeared with Commissioner Jim Coletta at Jackson Laboratory, which he said was a possible Sunshine Law violation. He pointed to the clothes and appearance of the woman seen from behind in this photo and compared it to another photo of Fiala. Lundin said the woman in the background of this photo appears to be Fiala. Greg Kahn/Staff

Outburst in Commissioners Chambers

John Lundin accuses commissioners of breaking Sunshine ...

— A Jackson Laboratory activist who filed a lawsuit that alleged two Collier County commissioners violated the state’s Sunshine Law has provided no evidence they communicated while in Maine this past summer, according to the county’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

John Lundin filed the complaint in Collier Circuit Court last month, saying Commissioners Donna Fiala and Jim Coletta violated the state’s public meetings law when they were in Bar Harbor, where Jackson is located, for a fact finding trip about the genetics research lab.

The basis of his complaint is a couple of photographs taken by the Daily News in Bar Harbor where he says the two commissioners were within earshot of each other in a room where mice, used by Jackson scientists, were on display.

Jackson officials say Lundin misidentified another woman, whose back is turned in one of the photographs, as Fiala. Lundin first filed a complaint with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office which dismissed it as unfounded.

In the motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the county says the entire complaint “is premised upon the single concept that the mere presence of two members of the Board of County Commissioners may not independently engage in fact finding on matters that conceivably might come before the board at a later date,” according to the motion. “This concept is inaccurate as a matter of law and does not constitute a violation of the Sunshine Law.”

Lundin said Tuesday he isn’t concerned about the lawsuit getting dismissed.

“It’s not a very good motion to dismiss,” he said. “It will be easy to dispute.”

When pressed, Lundin said his attorney, Steven Carta, had advised him not to disclose how they can dispute the county.

Nonetheless, Lundin said he went to film school and said he is able to analyze digital film and color variations that can occur. He was referring to the color of Fiala’s shirt in one of the photographs and the color variation in the shirt worn by the woman in another photograph who he says is Fiala.

Connect with health-care reporter Liz Freeman at www.naplesnews.com/staff/liz_freeman

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