Southwest City officials, naturally, are denying all of the allegations made by former Police Chief Ron Beaudry in his wrongful dismissal suit against the city.
Beaudry, in his suit filed Sept. 24 in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, claims that he was fired because he tried to remove police officer Toi Canada, who is Mayor Al Dixon's stepdaughter.
In his lawsuit, Beaudry claims that he tried to fire Ms. Canada because of her past record of drunk driving.
In their response to the lawsuit filed this week, Southwest City officials acknowledge that they hired Ms. Canada during a November 2003 meeting, but not at the request of Mayor Dixon.
Otherwise, the city officials denied all of Beaudry's allegations and said that Beaudry's firing was based on "valid legal grounds" and that Beaudry was an at-will employee who could be "terminated without cause for any legal reason," according to the response.
The city officials also claim Beaudry cannot see because they are protected by the doctrines of "sovereign immunity," "official immunity," and "qualified immunity."
Beaudry was fired June 2, after he made an unsuccessful effort to fire Ms. Canada. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the city of Southwest City, Mayor Al Dixon, and council members Farley Martin and Mildred Weaver. Beaudry noted in his petition that Ms. Canada is Martin's stepdaughter.Beaudry was hired as police chief in June 2003. Ms. Canada was promoted to full-time status after a closed council meeting in March 2004, the petition says. At that point, Beaudry conducted a background check and uncovered the alcohol-related offenses, he said. "On March 12, 2004," the petition says, "(Beaudry) received a fax from Angela Heckart, a representative with Beimdiek Insurance Agency, regarding the insurability of Ms. Canada." Ms. Heckart said Ms. Canada could not be insured because she had an alcohol-related driving offense in the three years before she was hired.
On March 30, the city received a fax saying that Ms. Canada was prohibited from using any city vehicle. At that point, Beaudry fired her.
"On or about April 13, 2004," the petition said, "the city council refused to fire Canada, rehired her, and allowed her to operate her own vehicle to conduct police business."
On May 14, the council suspended Beaudry after he went public about his concerns about Ms. Canada, the petition said. On June 2, he was fired.
In the petition, Beaudry claims his First Amendment free speech rights were violated by the city officials. He is asking to be reinstated as police chief, to have all references to his suspension and firing removed from city files, and for damages and punitive damages. He is asking for a jury trial.