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Judge rules on conflicting motions in O’Fallon police officers’ lawsuit

A year and 9 months after its initial filing, a lawsuit brought by Capt. Jeffrey Gray and Maj. Kyle Kelley of the O’Fallon Police Department against the city of O’Fallon and members of its current and past staff appears to be on a path for a potential trial date in early 2020.

During a hearing at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 11 in St. Charles County Circuit Court Division 5, Judge Jon A. Cunningham sorted through six significant and conflicting motions from the plaintiffs and defendants. After both attorneys argued in detail for their motions and rebutted responses from each other, the judge said the court would take the matters under advisement and issue its orders accordingly.

 The motions are:

  • The plaintiff’s Sept. 4 motion for sanctions due to spoliation of discovery materials [text messages on police department and city cellphone]).
  • The plaintiff’s Sept. 6 motion to compel the production of discovery materials.
  • The plaintiff’s Aug. 6 proposed case management order.
  • The defendant’s Sept. 23 motion to compel the plaintiff’s response to interrogatories and requests for production.
  • The defendants Sept. 24 motion for a protective order to limit the scope of depositions.
  • The defendant’s July 31 proposed case management order.

Subsequently, during the afternoon of Oct. 30, the judge issued his orders:

  • Denying the defendants’ motion for protective order to limit the scope of depositions.
  • Denying the plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions due to spoliation and pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 61.01[d] without prejudice.
  • Denying in part and granting in part the defendant’s motion to compel plaintiffs’ responses to interrogatories and requests for production.
  • Scheduling a hearing for 9 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2019, for plaintiffs’ motion to compel discovery or for sanctions.
  • Scheduling a trial-setting conference for 9 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2020. This is a court hearing aimed to determine if both parties are ready to proceed to trial. If so determined, the court will set a date for the trial. If not, the court will continue the trial setting conference, usually for a few months.

Regarding the judge’s latest orders, the plaintiffs’ attorney, John Lynch, said: “[The] plaintiffs are pleased the court ordered defendants to cooperate in the discovery process by not allowing them to arbitrarily limit the scope of depositions. We look forward to the court’s decision regarding the multiple internal recordings the plaintiffs believe will evidence a blatant and prolonged culture of discrimination and retaliation at the city of O’Fallon, which has gone unchecked for years.”

“The city of O’Fallon does not comment on pending litigation,” according to O’Fallon Communications Director Tom Drabelle.

Gray and Kelley initially filed their six-count employment discrimination lawsuit against the city on Feb. 12, 2018, in St. Charles County Circuit Court. On July 19, 2019, Mayor Bill Hennessy was added to the lawsuit with a seventh count for alleged defamation.

On Sept. 20, the plaintiffs served notices to take eight depositions from former City Administrator Bonnie Therrien, current City Administrator Michael Snowden, former interim Police Chief Gary George, former Police Chief Roy Joachimstaler, Administrative Services Director John Griesenauer, former council member Rick Lucas, former council member Jeff Schwentker and Mayor Bill Hennessy.  Subpoenas have been served on all.

 Mid Rivers Newsmagazine previously published update stories about this case on April 28, July 3 and Sept. 19, 2019.

 

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