The amended complaint comes after the deposition of Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty and several other potential witnesses.
An amended complaint has been filed by the attorney representing Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd which now alleges a total of six counts of First Amendment violations against commissioners.
Bolivar attorney Jay Kirksey requested to file an amended complaint on behalf of his client who is suing as an individual and not an elected office holder. The request was granted by Missouri Western District Judge Brian C. Wimes on July 28, 2017. The amended complaint comes after the deposition of Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty and several other potential witnesses.
A response to the amended complaint, which was filed on Aug. 2, 2017, has not yet been returned by attorney Katherine O’Dell who is representing the commissioners along with Ryan Harding of Husch Blackwell.
In the response to the original filed complaint, the commissioners had denied any wrongdoing as well as some of Todd’s descriptions of the roles handled by the clerk’s office, human resources as well as county policies related to record-keeping. The response also asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit and hold Todd accountable for legal fees.
The lawsuit was filed in March and stemmed from a dispute over the human resource department between the clerk’s and commissioners’ office. Prior to the filing, Todd has spoken out both privately and publicly on what he described as wasteful spending by the commission in regards to HR.
Almost a week after a letter written by Todd on the subject became public, the commission launched an investigation of the clerk’s office through the law firm Husch-Blackwell over allegations of stolen records and creating a hostile work environment for the now former HR administrator.
The subsequent investigative report from Husch Blackwell did not discover any criminal misconduct, but the publication thereof by two other local media outlets has become a key part of Todd’s lawsuit. Two Lake area reporters have been subpoenaed for depositions by Kirksey.
Count I — Violation of 1st Amendment (Hasty)
•Alleges that within days of Todd speaking out against the commission, Hasty informed KRMS on Feb. 28, 2017 of an investigation into Todd over accusations of creating a hospital work environment for the HR administrator
Quote: “At the time Defendant Hasty made his statements to KRMS radio there had been no vote of the Commission to hire Husch Blackwell, LLP to conduct an investigation,” according to the argument. “A vote was made in closed session, of which a vote still has not been made public on February 28, 2017 after the attorneys of the Commission came to Camden County to conduct Defendant Hasty’s investigation as announced on KRMS radio.”
Of note: It also alleges Hasty knew that a hostile work environment claim in 2016, previously investigated, also identified former commissioner Cliff Luber and other clerk staff employees, “not just Plaintiff [Todd] as Hasty intentionally singled out and published through KRMS.”
Count II — Violation of 1st Amendment — “Stole Records” (Hasty)
•Alleges Hasty’s accusation that Todd “stole records” was “an act of further retaliation” for exercising his First Amendment rights. Further, Kirksey argues Hasty’s statement was “false, defamatory and in reckless and total disregard of the truth” and amounted to intimidation and a threat of criminal prosecution. This claim also alleges Williams and Thomas knew of Hasty’s statement in advance, “or at the least ratified the statement with further discussion of all defendants as to criminal prosecution.”
Count III — Violation of 1st Amendment — “Publication of the Investigation Report” (Hasty, Thomas, Williams)
•Alleges the publication of the Husch-Blackwell report contained inclusive personal information and records of a report, investigation and findings that a hostile work environment was created by numerous individuals. The claim alleges Hasty provided the report to KRMS without the knowledge of Williams or Thomas, though “Williams and Thomas were aware in advance, or ratified the conduct of Hasty.”
Of note: The filing argues the policy of Camden County is not to release findings of a hostile work environment investigation to a third party, “moreless intentionally published by a Commissioner.” Additionally, the claim argues the report was “one sided, not complete and not true.”
Count IV — Violation of 1st Amendment — “You-Tube Video” (Hasty, Thomas, Williams)
•Alleges the publication of an edited Youtube video accompanying the Husch Blackwell investigative report displayed Todd in the HR office removing and replacing records at various times was “unconstitutional” and a “conspiracy to violate the constitutional rights of Plaintiff in acts known and taken culminating in the misinformation to the public, defamation to the public, and illegitimate investigation.”
Count V — Defamation (Hasty)
•Alleges Hasty published to media and other parties that Todd “stole” property, specifically that he “stole” records.
Quote: “Hasty knew that on two or three occasions prior to plaintiff’s retrieving of the payroll records of which Hasty said were ‘stolen’ that clerk staff had told him they needed access to the HR office to perform clerk functions,” according to the court document. “In fact, Hasty had been asked by clerk staff for access to the HR office to retrieve records the day before plaintiff and others transferred the payroll back to the clerk’s office.”
Count V — Punitives (Hasty)
•Alleges Hasty’s conduct was “malicious, wrong, known to be wrong” and seeks punitive damages to “deter such conduct” from occurring again. The filing claims Todd has suffered “embarrassment, public humiliation and physical injury and sickness.”