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Residents sue town to keep e-mails private

A Herald colleague covering the Town of Miami Lakes writes this story about residents suing over the privacy of their e-mail addresses. [Click here to read the full story and download the lawsuit.]

BY LAURA ISENSEE
lisensee@MiamiHerald.com

Two Miami Lakes residents filed a lawsuit Tuesday, asking a Miami-Dade circuit judge to declare their e-mail addresses private and not subject to public records rules.

Ceasar Mestre, a lawyer and town resident, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the residents, Lynn Matos and Jack McCall. Matos serves on the town's task force for youth activities while McCall is the former president of the town's Optimist Club. The suit does not seek any money.

The lawsuit comes a week after several residents urged the town to keep their e-mail addresses private and Mestre, who is running for Town Council, announced plans for the legal action.

Under Florida law, anyone can inspect and copy state, county and federal records. There are about 1,100 exemptions to the law, including Social Security numbers, records identifying sexual abuse victims and home addresses of law enforcement officers.

According to the filing, the residents gave Mayor Michael Pizzi their e-mail addresses to receive updates about community activities and did not consent to them being disclosed ``to any third party for any reason."

"The emails addresses are personal information that can be used to stalk, harass, engage in identity theft, hijack emails,'' Mestre said in the filing.

"Even if the content of the emails of the Mayor are public, the BCC [blind carbon copy] list is not a public record,'' he later wrote.

Civic activist Dr. Dave Bennett has requested the e-mail addresses of those receive update or town events sent by the mayor and maintains that they are public records.

Councilman Richard Pulido has also requested the e-mails that receive the mayor's updates, which have been denied.

The town's litigator, Gonzalo Dorta, previously advised Miami Lakes officials that the e-mails are public, but Dorta said there are conflicting legal opinions whether the e-mail addresses should be made public and advised not making them available.

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