For immediate release: September 1, 2004
Contact: Rachael Belz (513) 221-2100

Ohio Citizen Action won't release member list to refinery lawyer

First Amendment cited by group working with refinery neighbors

Yesterday, Ohio Citizen Action responded to subpoena requests made by the lawyer representing the Sunoco Oregon Refinery by filing a "motion to quash" the subpoena.

Toledo and Oregon residents have filed a class-action lawsuit (CLARKE, et al. v. SUNOCO, INC.) against Sunoco MidAmerica's refinery, claiming that years of pollution have damaged the health and property of anyone living within 1 1/2 miles of the Woodville Road plant.

The subpoena is part of the lawsuit. Ohio Citizen Action is not a party to the lawsuit, and was subpoenaed as a third party.

"Sunoco, Inc. knows that everything they demand is either already publicly available, constitutionally protected, or nonexistent. Their real purpose is to intimidate citizens who are compiling evidence that pollution from their Oregon refinery is harming neighbors. Sunoco Inc. has another recourse: it could clean up its refinery," Ohio Citizen Action stated in the memorandum filed.

The Sunoco, Inc. subpoena demanded the following from Ohio Citizen Action:
  1. Any and all documents in any way concerning the Sunoco Refinery in Oregon, Ohio.
  2. Any and all documents concerning meetings or any other communications with Dennis P. Sawan, Steven D. Liddle, or any other attorney, employee or staff member at the law firm of Macuga and Liddle, P.C.
  3. Any and all documents relating to communications or contact with any citizen, businesss, or any other group or entity relating to the Sunoco Refinery in Oregon, Ohio.
  4. Any and all documents in any way concerning the Toledo or Oregon, Ohio operations of the following entities: CSX Transportation, Inc., Air Liquide America Corp., Seneca Petroleum Co., Inc. and Veolia Water (a/k/a U.S. Filter).
In the memorandum filed, Ohio Citizen Action asserted that through the subpoena request, the Sunoco Oregon Refinery and their lawyers are attempting to get the organization's membership list and lists of neighbors working with Ohio Citizen Action to reduce pollution coming from the refinery.

"Ohio Citizen Action through staff and volunteers has undertaken several canvasses with the defendent's neighbors. Several of these sessions have been held this year, with the most comprehensive one being on August 14, 2004. A one-page interview question form with answers was collected from 473 persons. These may include identifying information of the respondents and are privileged by the First Amendment . . . or as trade secrets used in the deponent's business to plan its future educational activities," the memorandum said.

Ohio Citizen Action was served the subpoena on July 8, 2004.

Louis Tosi, representing Sunoco Oregon Refinery, is a lawyer with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo.

Bruce French, representing Ohio Citizen Action, is an independent attorney in Lima, Ohio.

Ohio Citizen Action is Ohio's largest environmental organization, with 100,000 dues-paying members. Non-profit and non-partisan, it was founded in 1975.