Submitted by Adam Kaufman
August 11, 2021
On August 6, 2021, Circuit Court Judge Steven M. Fahlgren, after an examination of documents Nassau Terminals CEO Christopher Ragucci claimed to contain “trade secrets,” ruled that those documents could be released to “Chip” Ross. Ross initiated a Public Records request for Port of Fernandina documents and filed for a Writ of Mandamus on June 8, 2021 when records were not provided to him pursuant to the Public Records Act.
On Saturday, August 7, Fahlgren’s judicial assistant provided a copy of the contested documents to Ross.
On Tuesday, August 10, Ragucci, by his attorney, filed a Motion to disqualify Fahlgren. A hearing before Fahlgren to determine whether sanctions will be imposed upon Raggucci and Nassau Terminals for civil or indirect criminal contempt is scheduled for August 27, 2021.
Ragucci, individually and as CEO of Nassau Terminals states in a sworn affidavit: “I believe Judge Steven Fahlgren is biased and/or prejudiced against me and my company, Nassau Terminals, LLC. And I fear such bias and/or prejudice prevents Nassau Terminals and me from receiving a fair and impartial hearing…”
The Motion recounts Fahlgren’s rulings during the hearings in this proceeding and his decision process with regard to the documents alleged to be “trade secrets.” It alleges their release is “causing irreparable harm.”
The Motion notes that Ross corresponded with the Court on August 8, concerning the production of documents. The Motion states: “Given the Court’s reticence to curb Petitioner’s quixotic pursuit of any documents he deems unilaterally ‘relevant’ to his initial requests, Nassau Terminal has more than a reasonable doubt that they will continue to be subject to rulings in this matter which are inherently prejudiced against them and in contravention of their statutory rights.”
Ragucci’s attorney argues that “there is a well-grounded and objectively reasonable fear [Nassau Terminals] will not receive a fair and reasonable trial.”
The Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) will hold its regular monthly meeting this evening, August 11, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. at the James S. Page Government Center, 96136 Nassau Place, Yulee, FL. The law suit is not specifically listed on the agenda, but it may be addressed under one of the more general items.
Note that all recorded case filings are available on the Nassau Clerk’s website by searching under court records for Civil (CA) Case 164.