State of Rhode Island



150 South Main Street- Providence, Rl 02903

(401) 274-4400


Peter F. Neronha


Attorney General




May 5, 2023

OM 23-12


Mr. Douglas Soscia



Chris D’Ovidio, Esquire

Legal Counsel, Pawtuxet River Authority



Re: Soscia v. Pawtuxet River Authority


Dear Mr. Soscia and Attorney D’Ovidio:


We have completed an investigation into the Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) Complaint filed by Mr. Douglas Soscia (“Complainant”) against the Pawtuxet River Authority (“PRA”). For the reasons set forth herein, we find that the PRA violated the OMA, but injunctive relief is unnecessary and there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of a willful or knowing violation.


Background and Arguments


The Complainant alleges that the PRA did not timely file meeting minutes for the following meetings: July 13, 2020, August 3, 2020, December 7, 2020, January 15, 2021, February 1, 2021, March 1, 2021, May 3, 2021, June 8, 2021, June 16, 2021, July 13, 2021, August 2, 2021, September 13, 2021, October 4, 2021, November 1, 2021, December 1, 2021, December 6, 2021, January 10, 2022, February 7, 2022, February 23, 2022, March 7, 2022, April 4, 2022, May 9, 2022, June 7, 2022, June 13, 2022, July 11, 2022, August 15, 2022, September 12, 2022, October 3, 2022, November 3, 2022, November 7, 2022 and December 12, 2022.   


Attorney Chris D’Ovidio submitted a “verified response” on behalf of the PRA conceding that the PRA failed to timely file minutes with the Secretary of State for the meetings referenced in the Complaint. The PRA maintains that it learned of the “missing” minutes after the Complainant submitted a request to the PRA for the minutes in January 2023. Upon learning that the minutes were not available on the Secretary of State’s website, “[t]he PRA investigated this matter and, through the assistance of the Secretary of State’s staff, learned why the problem existed and how it could be solved.” The PRA states that “the PRA developed an internal protocol to ensure the filing problem will not reoccur. With this new and refined knowledge in hand, all the minutes referenced in the Complaint are now available to the public on the Secretary of State’s website.” Additionally, “[t]he PRA recognizes that it must be diligent and strictly adhere to OMA.”   


Based upon this Office’s review of the PRA’s page on the Secretary of State website, the minutes referenced in the Complaint were posted between February 6 – February 14, 2023.


We acknowledge Complainant’s rebuttal.


Applicable Law and Findings


When we examine an OMA complaint, our authority is to determine whether a violation of the OMA has occurred. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8. In doing so, we must begin with the plain language of the OMA and relevant caselaw interpreting this statute.


The OMA provides that:


“All public bodies shall keep official and/or approved minutes of all meetings of the body and shall file a copy of the minutes of all open meetings with the secretary of state for inspection by the public within thirty-five days of the meeting[.]” R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-7(d) (emphasis added).


There is no dispute that the PRA failed to timely file its meeting minutes for numerous meetings from July 13, 2020 through December 12, 2022. as required by the OMA. Accordingly, the PRA violated the OMA with respect to those meetings.




The OMA provides that the Office of the Attorney General may institute an action in Superior Court for violations of the OMA. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8(a), (e). The Superior Court may issue injunctive relief and declare null and void any actions of the public body found to be in violation of the OMA. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8(d). Additionally, the Superior Court may impose fines of up to $5,000 against a public body found to have committed a willful or knowing violation of the OMA. Id.


Injunctive relief is not appropriate here because the pertinent meeting minutes have already been posted on the Secretary of State’s website.


We next turn to consider whether the PRA’s violations were willful or knowing. While  concerned by the number and extent of OMA violations found herein over a prolonged period of time, we recognize the PRA’s prompt resolution of the “missing” minutes upon learning that the same were not available on the Secretary of State’s website. Nor are we aware of any prior, similar violations by the PRA. Additionally, the PRA represented that it instituted new measures to guard against similar future violations and worked closely with the Secretary of State staff to post all outstanding minutes for public viewing.

Based on the totality of the circumstances, we do not find this violation to be willful or knowing. This finding serves as notice that the conduct discussed herein violates the OMA and may serve as evidence of a willful or a knowing violation in any similar future situation.


Although the Office of the Attorney General will not file suit in this matter, please be advised that nothing within the OMA prohibits an individual from instituting an action for injunctive or declaratory relief in Superior Court. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8(c).  The OMA allows the Complainant to file a complaint within ninety (90) days from the date of the Attorney General’s closing of the complaint or within one hundred eighty (180) days of the alleged violation, whichever occurs later. See id. Please be advised that we are closing this Complaint as of the date of this letter.


We thank you for your interest in keeping government open and accountable to the public.







By: /s/ Adam D. Roach

Adam D. Roach

Special Assistant Attorney General




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