County asks for dismissal of Cline suit
by Dennis Sharkey
Attorneys for Jefferson County have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the county by a rural McLouth man.
Phillip Cline Sr. filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court last month claiming he was falsely prosecuted by former County Attorney Mike Hayes and subsequently jailed.
In May 2007 Cline was alerted to a fire on the Oskaloosa square next to a building he owns on Washington Street. Cline was ordered by officers to leave the scene of the fire. He did not and was placed under arrest by former Kansas Highway Patrolman Chad Boling and former Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Brent Schieder.
Cline was convicted in December 2007 and jailed for five days and then put on house arrest until Feb. 17, 2008.
The case was appealed and a six-person jury upheld the conviction but the decision was later overturned by a Kansas Appeals Court.
Cline claims he was injured during the arrest and suffered mental trauma from the entire experience.
The claim that Cline was falsely prosecuted stems from a letter from the Kansas Highway Patrol stating that Boling was no longer employed by the Highway Patrol and that any case involving him should be dismissed according to Cline. He says that letter was withheld from his then attorney Dennis Hawver.
The filing states that the letter was disclosed to Hawver at a later date by former County Attorney Caleb Stegall.
The county’s attorneys, Kevin D. Case and Patric S. Linden of Case & Roberts in Kansas City, Mo., filed the motion to dismiss based on a couple of reasons.
The county argues that the claim filed by Cline in February is considerably past the deadline. They argue the statute of limitations on a tort claim concerning an injury is two years and would have expired in May 2009. Furthermore, they argue that the statute of limitations for filing an assault charge has also expired.
The motion states that the county should not be held liable for the conduct of former or current employees when they act outside the scope of their work and that Boling was never an employee.
The filing also argues that the jailing of Cline was legal at the time that it happened.
The county’s attorneys say that any damages against the county cannot exceed $500,000. Cline is asking for $950,000. The county asks for attorney fees if the court finds in their favor.
The county denies any charges of malicious prosecution against Cline. The filing says that Cline’s case was reversed because of a defect in the underlying charge and was overturned based on technical reasons.
“Simply obtaining a reversal of conviction does not give rise to claim for malicious prosecution,” the filing says.
The county is seeking a jury trial if the case proceeds to court.
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