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Newspaper article triggers statute of limitations for Sunshine law violations in case against County

The Missouri Court of Appeals, in Missouri Landowners Alliance et al., v. Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC, et al., threw out claims against the Monroe County Commission for various violations of the Sunshine Law because they were untimely. Sunshine law, § 610.027.5 RSMo., provides that claims for sunshine violations must be brought in court within one year from the time the violation was capable of discovery. That section also states that claims cannot be brought more than two years after the violation. In July 2014, Missouri Landowners Alliance (“MO Landowners”) brought suit against the County Commission for Sunshine Law violations. MO Landowners complained that a matter requiring approval from the Commission, a proposed grain transmission line that would cross county roads, was not included on the meeting agenda for a July 2012 meeting, and that the minutes for that meeting did not contain the vote by the Commission approving Grain Belt’s proposed transmission line. The meeting minutes were published in a local newspaper one month after the alleged violations, in August 2012. The Court held that a reasonable person would have been put on notice of the Commission’s Sunshine Law violations at the time the minutes were published in the newspaper. Therefore, the statute of limitations began to run in August 2012, and MO Landowners’ suit was brought too late.

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