Clay County judge has been assigned to hear the two cases involving Platte County’s effort to recover salary increases from a pair of former officeholders.
Judge Rex Gabbert of Clay County has been appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the cases. Court records show the assignment was made on May 10.
An expected first docket call for the cases has been set for June 15 in Clay County. It will be heard in Clay County for the convenience of the judge.
The county in April filed separate lawsuits against former county commissioners Diza Eskridge and Michael Short, seeking to recover money that had been paid to them in the form of a salary increase that was later deemed unconstitutional by the state’s highest court.
The case initially was assigned to Judge Gary Witt in Platte County Circuit Court Division 5. Witt disqualified himself on his own motion and the matter was sent to Presiding Judge Lee Hull in Division 2. Hull then requested the supreme court to make a judge assignment.
Platte County is seeking the return of $19,763.50 paid to both Eskridge and Short between Jan. 1, 1999 and Dec. 31, 2000. It is also seeking interest at the rate of 9% per annum from Feb. 7, 2005, the date the county made a demand via certified mail to both Eskridge and Short seeking the return of the money. The county has hired attorney Charlie Dickman as special counsel in this matter. Short and Eskridge have retained the Kansas City law firm of White, Goss and Bowers.
Mary Jo Shaney of the defendants’ law firm this week filed a motion requesting the judge to dismiss the case, arguing that a three-year statute of limitations has expired.
Reached Wednesday morning, Dickman said the county disagrees that the three year statute of limitations applies since the defendants are being sued for pay made erroneously under the law, not for action performed “on the job.” Dickman said he will soon file a response arguing that a five year statute of limitations applies in pay-related issues.
Earlier this year, the county agreed to pay Dickman $125 per hour for his legal work. Dickman capped his attorney fee at $250 per demand letter sent in any individual matter, and agreed to cap his total attorney fee at $7,500 in any individual litigated matter through trial.