Last week, the attorney representing the Camden County Commission filed a notice of removal to federal court effectively moving the lawsuit filed by Todd against the county commission to federal district court.
The legal maneuvering between Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd and the Camden County Commission has moved from Camden County to federal court.
Last week, the attorney representing the Camden County Commission filed a notice of removal to federal court effectively moving the lawsuit filed by Todd against the county commission to federal district court. The notice was filed by Ryan Harding of Hush Blackwell.
By moving to federal court, the case will not be heard by a local judge or jury when or if it goes to trial. The federal court also adheres to a more stringent timeline than state courts do.
Camden County falls under the jurisdiction of the Central Division - Jefferson City of the United States Western District of Missouri.
In the original petition that was filed in Camden County Circuit Court, Todd accused the county commission and in particular Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty with violating his first amendment rights after the commission initiated an investigation into allegations of a hostile work environment and a waste of taxpayer money after Todd sent a letter to the commission criticizing the Human Resources department and what he referred to as wasteful spending.
The investigation by the county commission through Husch Blackwell culminated in "misinformation to the public, defamation to the public, and illegitimate investigation,” according to Todd’s petition. The suit claims the commission was "reckless, malicious, wanton and willful" and seeks punitive damages.
Todd has previously stated the investigation was a retaliatory measure against him after he issued a letter regarding issues with the HR department, including how the county commission was spending more — "wasting" as Todd put it — taxpayer dollars on HR after taking the responsibilities away from his office two years ago. The county clerk's office has continued to handle payroll.
No hostile work environment existed, the petition states. Because the responsibilities of HR and payroll were divided between two departments by the county commission, HR had to provide all appropriate documentation to the clerk's office to enable them to perform the functions related to payroll, including, but not limited to, submission of retirement payments to CERF and LAGERS as well as for health insurance benefits.
The lawsuit includes two counts of violation of first amendment rights, one in general against county commissioners Hasty, Williams and First District Commissioner Beverly Thomas and one specifically in regards to Hasty.
Todd’s attorney, Jay Kirksey, said his client spoke out as citizen and watchdog on behalf of the citizens of Camden County.