There’s aiming high, and then there’s aiming really high.
Springfield doctor Gil Mobley is aiming even higher than that.
Mobley has filed a federal lawsuit in Springfield that seeks $2.4 billion in actual and punitive damages for alleged fraud and ecological harm involving the Kansas Expressway extension highway project, which is planned to be built near his neighborhood in southwest Springfield.
His lawsuit names 25 people, including the three Greene County commissioners; several members of the Greene County Highway Department; several employees of Missouri Department of Transportation, a Springfield-Greene County Park Board employee, two members of an engineering company and others who did work or consulted on the highway extension project.
Greene County hopes to build the Kansas Expressway extension from west Republic Road south to near the Greene County line.
Mobley filed his civil lawsuit in the Missouri Southern District federal court on Sept. 19, with the goal of blocking the project. On Friday, Mobley said he wanted to bring to light the project’s “egregious offenses to nature.”
“One, it’s to stop the insanity and madness of what they’re doing to our precious land, which has value archaeologically and geologically,” Mobley said Friday. “Two, it’s to re-establish some degree of accountability for the people who are doing this.”
According to the court filing, Mobley claims a “conspiracy to defraud the feds and public financially and security of precious preserved prehistoric ice age cave.”
Mobley in the past has complained that the Kansas Expressway extension threatens to destroy habitat needed by endangered bats and that the project also threatens to harm caves both known and unknown in the vicinity of the corridor.
On Friday, Mobley said the highway project will damage or destroy at least two caves that he believes are connected to the now-famous Riverbluff ice age cave, which Greene County Highway workers accidentally discovered while blasting a road on Sept. 11, 2001. The cave has produced a trove of ice age fossils.
For more than 20 years, Greene County highway planners have noted a need for a new north-south corridor in southwest Springfield to handle traffic growth in that area.
Mobley is seeking a jury trial and also filed a motion requesting a change of venue. He also asked the court to appoint an attorney to represent him because, as he noted in the request, “I am without means to employ counsel.”
Crista Hogan, executive director of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, said federal courts don’t appoint attorneys to represent people who file civil court cases.
On Friday, the Greene County Commission declined to comment about the lawsuit, noting its county counselor would respond. There was no response from the county counselor by the time of this story’s publication.
Scott Sergent, assistant counsel for MoDOT, is representing MoDOT officials named in the lawsuit.
“As a matter of policy, MoDOT does not comment on pending litigation, so I am unable to provide any further comment,” Sergent said Friday in an email.
The case, Mobley v. Artman et al, is 6:19-CV-03337-BCW.
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