Tonawanda News

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January 18, 2013

Clean Air earns legal victory


Tonawanda News — CAC representatives also argued that releasing the information would violate members’ privacy. 

“We take the privacy of our members, our contacts, or neighbors very seriously. It is very important to the work we do,” coalition Executive Director Erin Heaney said in December. “Without folks trusting us, we can’t do our job.”

At a Nov. 28 hearing, the coalition, with the assistance of attorney James Duggan, asked state Supreme Court Justice Paula L. Feroleto to quash the subpoena, issue a protective order for the coalition from the lawyers and have the defendant pay the coalition’s legal fees. 

Tonawanda Coke’s lawyers submitted a document to the court to support its subpoena, arguing the corporation is entitled to materials from non-parties, that the CAC did not meet the legal qualifications for a quashed subpoena and the CAC didn’t have any valid, legal objections to the request, among other arguments.

“The CAC attempts to distract this court’s attention from the real issues by asserting that a motion to compel compliance somehow falls within the protection of civil rights laws,” the document states. “The CAC cites no case law in support of this red-herring.”

Feroleto initially reserved judgment on the issue in November. Tuesday, she released her decision, siding with the coalition and quashing the subpoena. Feroleto also granted a the requested protective order, but denied the coalition’s demand for legal fees. 

In the four-page decision, Feroleto said the defendant and their lawyers have access to many of the records that were requested and that some of the documents are not in the possession of the CAC, as they’ve been sent to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

She also wrote that because the CAC is not party to the suit, the group does have some legal protection.

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