Wildwood Mayor Tim Woerther received approval from city councilmembers Monday evening to enter into a contract with St. Louis County for county officials to legally represent the municipality in the Steven Wayne Elliot v. City of Wildwood, et.al. case.
Wildwood resident Steven Elliot filed a lawsuit against a St. Louis County Police-Wildwood (6th) Precinct officer, indicating his civil rights were violated. Due to Wildwood's contract with the St. Louis County Police Department for police services, Wildwood as a city, also was cited in the lawsuit.
Wildwood city attorney Rob Golterman said Wildwood will not incur costs for the legal representation from the county.
Elliot filed four counts against Wildwood police officer James McDonald and the city itself:
- Elliot alleged McDonald violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by using excessive force when handcuffing him.
- Elliot alleged Wildwood violated his rights by delegating authority to McDonald, failing to train, supervise and control him, and by failing to prevent a pattern of the officer's transgressions.
- Elliot claimed Wildwood and the St. Louis County Police Department are "vicariously liable" for McDonald's actions.
- Elliot brought forth a common law claim of assault and batter against McDonald, the county police department and the city.
McDonald was assigned to the Wildwood precinct in January 2007. He was awarded the officer of the year award in December 2004 while an armed bicycle officer for the Department of Public Safety. He is a former security guard and has served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
On July, 12, 2012, Honorable Henry Autrey granted a motion from St. Louis County Police Department-Wildwood Precinct for this case to be dismissed. That action also dismissed the St. Louis County Police Department. However, Autrey denied the City of Wildwood motion to dismiss it.
Case materials indicate the court converted the lawsuit to a "Motion for Summary Judgment," which typically is a procedure used during civil litigation to promptly and expeditiously dispose of a case without a trial. Lawyers indicate it is used when there is no dispute of the material facts of the case and a party is entitled to judgment. Usually a court will hold oral arguments on a summary judgment motion, although it may decide the motion on the parties' briefs and supporting documentation alone. The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials. It also may simplify a trial.
A PDF of the case summary accompanies this article.
Wildwood city administrator Dan Dubruiel said this is the first lawsuit of this type that he can recall involving the municipality. He also said Wildwood officials have not received many details about the case to date.
Editor's Note: The matter is being handled by the St. Louis County Counselors’ Office, and Eureka-Wildwood Patch is awaiting information about the current legal status and next steps regarding the lawsuit.