Growing Our Communities Together!
Strengthening Cities Through A United Voice,
Cooperation, Effective Services And Proactive Agenda
CITIES PREVAIL IN KIMBLE LAWSUIT
In January of 2013, Bert Kimble, as an individual and on behalf of all Missouri customers of AT&T Mobility that paid for city or county business license taxes collected by Defendants upon the provision of internet access services on bills issued from Nov. 1, 2005 through Sept. 30, 2010 (purported class) filed a lawsuit against more than 260 municipalities. The suit sought to obtain over $14 million from municipalities and St. Louis County.
On Jan. 13, 2014, U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey entered an order granting all Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.This order effectively ends the trial court phase of the case unless a successful appeal by Plaintiffs results in a remand to the trial court.An order dismissing the case has been entered that will commence the thirty (30) day period for the Plaintiffs to file an appeal if they so desire.
In the order that was entered, Judge Laughrey addressed the three theories of recovery in the Plaintiffs' petition that the Defendants (1) violated the equal protection clause of the United States and Missouri constitutions; (2) were unjustly enriched by collection of money through AT&T on internet access charges; and (3) violated the civil rights of Plaintiffs (42 U.S.C. §1983) by requiring payment of surcharges for business license taxes.Judge Laughrey found that while municipalities are state actors, a requirement for both equal protection and civil rights claims, nothing in the pleadings would provide evidence that "a reasonable juror could conclude that the Defendants' actions ‘caused' AT&T to charge its customers a surcharge …” Judge Laughrey rejected an assertion that the failure of the Defendants to prohibit the use of a surcharge could be treated as state action.The Court attributed the injury to actions of AT&T related to coding error(s) and declared "Defendants did nothing to cause that error.” The Court concluded that the Plaintiffs failed to show any state actor caused their injury and granted the Motions for Judgment on Counts I (Equal Protection) and III (42 U.S.C. §1983).
MML is pleased to report this defense was provided at no cost to defendant municipalities and wishes to thank all the municipal and other attorneys who worked so diligently on this case.
VIDEO CONFERENCING POLICY
SB 170 passed in the 2013 legislative session provides an option for elected officials to cast roll call votes via video conferencing. At the request of the League, Lauber Municipal Law has prepared a sample policy for member cities to use should the municipality decide to implement this option. Copies of the policy are available here. Cities are not required to adopt this policy.
As with all sample policy, the League suggests having the policy reviewed by your city attorney prior to adoption.
VICTORY IN WIRELESS LAWSUIT
The Circuit Court in Cole County issued a final judgment in favor of the City of Liberty and five other cities against the State of Missouri and ruling that HB 331 and HB 345 were unconstitutional and were permanently enjoined.
These bills had been signed by the Governor but placed numerous significant limitations on local government authority to protect property owners and residents relating to cell towers and antennas, and further limited control over City rights-of-way, utility poles and property, among other subjects negatively impacting our members and constituents.
While this final judgment may be appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, it is currently a resounding victory for local governments to remind us all that we are not powerless to block at least the more outrageous special interest efforts in Jefferson City. Specifically, the decision holds that HB 331 and HB345 are unconstitutional in that they contain multiple subjects and violate the Clear Title and Original Purpose provisions of the Missouri Constitution in combining many unrelated subjects. The Cities also had raised other constitutional challenges that were not addressed because the Court struck down the entirety of both laws on the constitutional procedural violations.
Thanks to Dan Vogel, Cunningham, Vogel & Rost, P.C., the City of Liberty, ET AL for a job well done!
Class Action Information: Winchester v Ameren Class Action Lawsuit Documents and Information
Do you have a picture to share? Submit your photos and a brief caption for consideration to post on the MML homepage to Laura Holloway at Lholloway@mocities.com.