Embroiled in two lawsuits affecting public officials, Texas County government says it does not have insurance to cover any potential liabilities when the cases go to trial later this year.
The revelation is contained in a lawsuit filed last week by Texas County commissioners against an insurance company and its agent. In a four-page lawsuit filed against Cabool Insurance Agency and Craig Pounds, Texas County alleges “the insurance obtained by defendants for plaintiff did not include coverage to protect plaintiff from any and all liability or to cover all of plaintiff’s employees.”
According to the court documents, Texas County government has been denied twice by “the carrier of the insurance policy sold to plaintiff while acting as plaintiff’s broker or agent.”
The period covers a timeframe that the county is being sued in U.S. District Court and in circuit court.
The county’s litigation costs for both lawsuits now total nearly $190,000, records show.
The first lawsuit involves a former 911 dispatcher, Carol Denise Wilson, who sued County Commissioner Don Shelhammer, Texas County and Wri-Tex 911 in February 2008. In the suit, Wilson alleges that Shelhammer subjected her to offensive sexual remarks and conduct in May and June of 2006 and forced her to leave her job as a 911 dispatcher. The case was transferred on a change of venue to Pulaski County. Documents show a settlement may be in the offing before a May 10 trial. The county has spent $94,738 to defend itself. Shelhammer is paying his own legal fees.
The second case involving the county is a federal lawsuit that names it and Michael Anderson, county prosecutor. Monica Daniel Hutchison, a former county employee, alleges employment discrimination, retaliation, malicious prosecution, abuse of process and defamation by Anderson, who in May 2006 had filed a civil case against Hutchison alleging wrong-doing and charged she and another county worker, Mildred Williams, operated a sex ring from the county courthouse. Anderson later dropped the suit. Williams later filed a lawsuit against Anderson. It is pending in Texas County Circuit Court. It was filed last July.
Hutchison’s lawsuit continues to move in federal court, where it is to be heard later this year. The county has spent $94,847 related to the U.S. District Court matter, records show. Anderson is paying for his own defense.
In the lawsuit filed last week, the county’s attorney, Thomas K. Niell of the St. Louis firm of Gray, Ritter & Graham P.C., says the county has sustained attorney fees and expenses, as well as the potential cost of damages assessed or settlements made in any of the lawsuits.