Franklin County Seeks Dismissal of Suit - The Missourian: Local News

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Franklin County Seeks Dismissal of Suit

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013 3:00 pm

The county has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that recently was transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court.

It also filed a separate motion to have the plaintiffs pay the county’s legal fees in the case.

Plaintiffs Art LeBeau and Eric Reichert, both of Villa Ridge, are representing themselves in the lawsuit that alleges a House bill that authorized the county’s new municipal court was unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs failed to file responses to the county’s motions on time, according to Supreme Court records.

But LeBeau said the high court had told him he had until Aug. 29 to respond to the county’s motions and said he does not understand why his responses were said to be “out of time.” Even though the responses were filed late the court still will consider them, he said.

LeBeau blasted the county’s motions and said “they don’t really say anything.”

Franklin County Counselor Mark Vincent said he could not comment on the motions because they deal with ongoing litigation.

The motions delve into a Supreme Court rule but fail to address the constitutional issues, LeBeau added.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleges that the Missouri House bill that led to the creation of the court was illegal because it contained two subject matters and was changed from its original purpose.

The motion to seek attorney fees is just a “ploy to discourage Eric Reichert and myself,” LeBeau asserted.

The county argues that a Supreme Court rule states that defendants can have their legal fees paid by the plaintiffs if a lawsuit is frivolous. The purpose of this rule is to prevent the court system from becoming backlogged with meritless lawsuits, the motion states.

But LeBeau said, “It’s definitely not a frivolous matter. I think we have a good, meritorious case on the constitutionality.”

Moreover, other cases the county cites in its motion are “not on point,” LeBeau said.

In its other motion, the county’s legal counsel seeks to have the case dismissed because the plaintiffs’ appeal does not contain a “statement of facts” that complies with a Missouri Supreme Court rule.

The plaintiffs’ statement of facts does not include facts but rather a series of questions and a “litany of allegations.”

The statement of facts is poorly written and does not clearly explain what occurred on the trial court level, the county’s motion states.

The county is being represented in the case by Matt Becker of the Union law firm of Purschke, White, Robinson, Becker & Briegel.

The motion also states that the plaintiffs failed to support claims that six judges recused themselves from the case because of “political maneuvering.”

Moreover, the county’s motion states that cases cited by the plaintiffs to bolster their arguments are irrelevant. For instance, the plaintiffs argue that they do in fact have standing in the case despite the circuit court’s ruling. But the cases they cite to support their arguments do not “contain any standing analysis whatsover,” the motion states.

Likewise, the plaintiffs in their appeal attempt to argue the constitutionality of House Bill 1171, but the trial court never heard evidence on that matter, the motion charges.

The “appellants seek to avoid the decision of the trial court and invite this court to function as a trial court and decide an issue the trial court did not take evidence on. . .,” the motion says.

The motion also challenges the plaintiffs’ allegation that the county’s legal counsel is not authorized to represent the county. The plaintiffs’ arguments in regard to this matter do not have any factual basis, the county says.

The Franklin County Circuit Court dismissed the case this year, saying the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue.

The plaintiffs then appealed to the Eastern District Court of Appeals in St. Louis. But that court transferred the case to the Missouri Supreme Court since the case deals with constitutional matters.

/local_news

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