October 14, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan has decided that the MBC legal action should proceed in the division where it started, before Judge Thomas Brown, III, in Division I. After a hearing on October 11, in which MBC attorneys asked Callahan to consolidate the cases in his division, Judge Callahan instead dismissed the case in his division so that the petition before Judge Brown could proceed.
“The only effect of this ruling is that we will proceed before Judge Brown,” said Michael Whitehead, MBC lead attorney, who appeared at the hearing on October 11 along with co-counsel Stan Masters of Kansas City and Charles Hatfield of Jefferson City.
“Judge Callahan’s order was titled “judgment of dismissal” but that should not mislead anyone. It is simply the form he used to put the case back in Division I.”
“All our legal claims will now be combined in the petition before Judge Brown, in which the court of appeals gave us our victory, “commented James F. Freeman, III, MBC co-counsel. “The Executive Board is named as plaintiff in Division I. Five messengers were named as plaintiffs in Division II. We expect to add the individual messengers and their claims in the Division I case.”
Defense lawyers had filed a motion to “abate” the messenger petition before Judge Callahan, on the theory that the second case was identical to the first case. Therefore, the second case should be dismissed and the plaintiffs should proceed in the first case in Division I. Callahan granted the motion to abate.
“We have asked Judge Brown to set a scheduling conference as soon as possible. We need to schedule hearings on some motions that were pending when the case went up on appeal. They are already briefed and before the court, so we just need to set the argument date,” Whitehead said. “It is time to move full-speed ahead.”
Once those legal motions are resolved, the court may schedule the time for remaining discovery and set a trial date. MBC attorneys say they are hopeful that the case may be ready for trial in early 2006.