Hedquist’s Federal Lawsuit Against Patterson Set For Trial In 2016
The federal lawsuit filed by Casper City Councilman Craig Hedquist against City Manager John Patterson and the city itself will go to trial in January 2016, according to court records.
Other recent developments in the case include the withdrawal of Janel Moore as Hedquist's co-plaintiff, and the dismissal of two causes of action in the amended complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
Hedquist and Moore filed the original lawsuit on Feb. 27, and the amended complaint on April 3. Moore is a resident of the city's Ward 2 and is represented by Hedquist.
The tensions that simmered before Hedquist's election in November 2012 erupted last year with his confrontation with Patterson over a land matter involving the Boys & Girls Club and the Natrona county School District, secret recordings of Hedquist about his construction company, unsuccessfully asking Casper police officers to bug his locker, and questions about conflicts of interest.
In May, six of the eight council members voted informally to ask Hedquist to resign.
On Sept. 2, council declined to pursue Hedquist's request for an investigation into Patterson and it passed a code of ethics, which most council members said ended the Hedquist controversy.
However, the federal lawsuit continues.
On Sept. 5, U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson granted the requests of both sides to dismiss two of the three causes of action against Patterson and the city. Both were related to the attempts to remove Hedquist from office.
The second cause remains regarding Patterson's alleged retaliation against Hedquist for freely speaking about city management after his election in November 2012.
"Patterson's retaliation has included, but is not limited to, instigating the two investigations and filing the Petition to have Hedquist removed from his elected office," according to the amended complaint. "The purpose of Patterson's retaliation was to silence Hedquist and prevent him from speaking critically about him and his administration as an elected City Councilman for Ward 2 of the City of Casper."
These actions caused Hedquist to hire a legal team to defend himself and keep his office, and he wants Patterson to pay for it plus punitive damages, according to the amended complaint.
The legal road ahead is a long one.
Judge Johnson set dates throughout 2015 for designating witnesses, filing motions and responses, and the trial date of Jan. 19, 2016.