Siding with the Miami Herald, a Tallahassee judge Tuesday ordered state transportation officials to hand over records related to the March bridge collapse at Florida International University (FIU) that resulted in six deaths.
The Herald sued the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in May, after officials with the agency refused to release some documents related to the March 15 collapse of the pedestrian bridge. Using Florida’s broad public-records law, the Herald requested a wide range of documents related to the bridge and the subsequent collapse, but state officials refused to provide records from Feb. 20 and later.
State transportation officials claimed they could not comply with the request because federal law restricts the release of information under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB backed up state officials’ position, saying the requested documents, which ranged from Feb. 20 to March 17, fell within the scope of a regulation prohibiting the release of information “obtained during an investigation.”
But during a hearing last month, an attorney representing the Herald told Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll the regulation does not apply to documents that were created before the investigation began. In a six-page order issued Tuesday, the judge agreed, citing that the documents in dispute were public records obtained prior to the existence of the investigation.
Source: News Service of Florida / WPEC-TV