§ 42-46-8 Remedies available to aggrieved persons or entities. (a) Any citizen or entity of the state who is aggrieved as a result of violations of the provisions of this chapter may file a complaint with the attorney general. The attorney general shall investigate the complaint and if the attorney general determines that the allegations of the complaint are meritorious he or she may file a complaint on behalf of the complainant in the superior court against the public body.
(b) No complaint may be filed by the attorney general after one hundred eighty (180) days from the date of public approval of the minutes of the meeting at which the alleged violation occurred, or, in the case of an unannounced or improperly closed meeting, after one hundred eighty (180) days from the public action of a public body revealing the alleged violation, whichever is greater.
(c) Nothing within this section shall prohibit any individual from retaining private counsel for the purpose of filing a complaint in the superior court within the time specified by this section against the public body which has allegedly violated the provisions of this chapter; provided, however, that if the individual has first filed a complaint with the attorney general pursuant to this section, and the attorney general declines to take legal action, the individual may file suit in superior court within ninety (90) days of the attorney general's closing of the complaint or within one hundred eighty (180) days of the alleged violation, whichever occurs later.
(d) The court shall award reasonable attorney fees and costs to a prevailing plaintiff, other than the attorney general, except where special circumstances would render such an award unjust. The court may issue injunctive relief and declare null and void any actions of a public body found to be in violation of this chapter. In addition, the court may impose a civil fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) against a public body or any of its members found to have committed a willful or knowing violation of this chapter.
(e) Nothing within this section shall prohibit the attorney general from initiating a complaint on behalf of the public interest.
(f) Actions brought under this chapter may be advanced on the calendar upon motion of the petitioner.
(g) The attorney general shall consider all complaints filed
under this chapter to have also been filed under § 38-2-8(b) if applicable.
(P.L. 1978, ch. 146, § 2; P.L. 1981, ch. 279, § 1; P.L. 1984, ch. 372, § 1; P.L. 1985, ch. 373, § 1; P.L. 1988, ch. 659, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 379, § 1.)