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Laquidara

Judge dismisses Laquidara suit

By Marilyn Young, Editor

The lawsuit asking that General Counsel Cindy Laquidara be removed from office because she wasn’t legally appointed was dismissed by a judge Monday.

The lawsuit was filed in September by Joseph Strasser and Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, saying Laquidara was not properly appointed to the job.

She was first selected for the position by former Mayor John Peyton to replace Rick Mullaney when he resigned to run for mayor, then reappointed by Mayor Alvin Brown.

Concerned Taxpayers said Laquidara never went through the proper appointment process, which should include a five-attorney selection panel to recommend candidates to the mayor.

In the lawsuit, the group asked that Laquidara be removed through a legal action called a writ of quo warranto.

Circuit Judge Robert Foster dismissed the case, saying the plaintiffs didn’t have the legal right to use the quo warranto approach.

Kevin Hyde, one of several attorneys who represented Laquidara pro bono, said in order to file a quo warranto, a plaintiff has to either say he or she is entitled to the office or the actions taken by the defendant are outside the authority of the job. The lawsuit was filed under the former, he said.

During a motion to dismiss hearing, Hyde said they argued that the plaintiffs didn’t have the right to be in court because they weren’t claiming entitlement to the office. David Wells of the Gunster law firm made the arguments on Laquidara’s before the judge.

Foster agreed and dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it can’t be filed again.

The case was dismissed before the merits of the case were ever discussed in court, Hyde said.

Hyde said the case was important to him because he felt the plaintiffs were using a legal process to determine the appointment instead of using the political process.

He said he told City Council members if the lawsuit stood, any action they took could result in a lawsuit.

John Winkler, head of Concerned Taxpayers, could not be reached this morning.

myoung@baileypub.com

(904) 356-2466

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