Mayor Ron Counts cast the tie-breaking vote allowing the law firm Armstrong Teasdale, which works for city of Arnold, to defend former Ward 2 Councilman Jerel Poor in a separate lawsuit.
Counts vote, during a city council meeting on April 26, avoided a possible legal conflict of interest for the 241-lawyer firm with offices in St. Louis, Kansas City and Jefferson City.
City Attorney Bob Sweeney said the firm works with him to defend Arnold in a lawsuit against Poor.
Poor’s complaint is that a storm water charge imposed all property within city boundaries is unconstitutional, reported Missouri Lawyers Media, a trade publication. The water charge is a tax issued without the voters’ approval, the magazine reported.
During the city council meeting, Sweeney told councilmen that Armstrong Teasdale employees asked him and City Administrator Matt Unrein for permission to the firm to represent Poor in an unrelated lawsuit about a work place tragedy.
On January 17, Best Auto employee Robert Williams, died of injuries sustained while working at the business’s 2120 Michigan Ave. location, said an Arnold Police Department report.
Williams was working on a large tire, when a portion of the steel rim broke away and struck his head, the report said. Williams died of his injuries at St. Anthony’s Medical Center that day.
Armstrong Teasdale is a large law firm, different attorneys would represent Poor and the city, and the firm has controls to prevent conflicts of interest, Sweeney said to council members.
Sweeney said he had no concerns about the firm representing Poor. Unrein agreed with Sweeney’s statement.
Ward 2 Councilman Jim Edwards said he was uncomfortable with the city’s law firm working for someone suing the city.
Edwards and councilmen Bill Moritz, Paul Freese and Phil Amato voted against the firm working for Poor.
Councilmen Cricky Lang, Doris Borgelt, Sandra Kownacki and Ken Moss voted to allow the firm to represent Poor.
Counts broke the tie vote and said he was comfortable with the Armstrong Teasdale working for the city and for Poor.