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Case: 4:04-cv-01548-ERW Doc.

#: 1 Filed: 11/08/04 Page: 1 of 9 PageID #: 1

EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


EASTERN DIVISION
SEAN COOPER,
Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF FESTUS,
Serve: Charlene Byers, City Clerk
711 West Main
Festus, MO 63028
Defendant.

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Cause No.
JURY TRIAL REQUESTED

COMPLAINT
COUNT I
COMES NOW Plaintiff Sean Cooper, and for Count I of his Complaint, states and alleges
as follows:
1.

Plaintiff Sean Cooper (Sean Cooper) is a citizen of the United States and

resident of the County of Jefferson, State of Missouri.


2.

Defendant City of Festus is a third class city located in the County of Jefferson,

and is duly incorporated and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of Missouri
with a Mayor-City Council-City Administrator form of government.
3.

This Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331 and 1367,

as amended.
4.

Venue of this action is proper in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1391(b).

5.

Count I of Sean Coopers Complaint is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 in

that Sean Cooper was discharged from his employment as a police officer with Defendant City

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of Festus for exercising his free speech rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution.
6.

Sean Cooper was employed by Defendant City of Festus as a police officer from

October 1997 until he was terminated on or about July 13, 2004.


7.

Some time before 2:00 a.m. on March 26, 2004, Sean Cooper was on patrol

when Sergeant William Stewart of the City of Festus Police Department pulled up in his police
vehicle, and cautioned Sean Cooper to be careful because the then City of Festus municipal
judge (Festus municipal judge) was intoxicated and driving around in his new black Lincoln.
8.

A short time thereafter, Sean Cooper was in his police vehicle and observed

Sergeant Billy Reece of the Crystal City Police Department traveling south on Highway 61/67
in Jefferson County at a high rate of speed. Sean Cooper proceeded to follow Sergeant Reece
in order to provide any needed assistance and/or backup.
9.

Sean Cooper followed Sergeant Reece to the scene of an automobile accident

at or near 650 Truman Boulevard in the City of Festus.


10.

Upon arriving at the scene of the automobile accident, Sean Cooper observed

Sergeant Stewarts police vehicle parked near the two vehicles that had been involved in the
accident, one of which was a black Lincoln with front end damage. Sergeant Stewart was
already at the scene of this accident and was the officer in charge.
11.

The Festus municipal judge was in the front passenger seat of Sergeant Stewarts

police vehicle. The three other individuals who had been passengers in the Festus municipal
judges vehicle were standing near the scene of the accident.

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12.

The driver and passenger of the second vehicle involved in the accident were

standing near their vehicle.


13.

While at the scene of the accident, Sean Cooper observed Sergeant Stewart

talking on his cell phone at several different times. Upon information and belief, Sergeant
Stewart was talking to the City of Festus Chief of Police Tim Lewis.
14.

Sergeant Stewart stated that the Festus municipal judge was intoxicated, and

Sergeant Stewart requested that Sergeant Reece and the Crystal City Police Department take
over and assume responsibility for the accident scene and the investigation of this suspected
driving while intoxicated accident.
15.

Sergeant Reece informed Sergeant Stewart that the Crystal City Police

Department also had a conflict of interest because the Festus municipal judge occasionally
presided as judge in the Crystal City Municipal Court.

Sergeant Reece, therefore, advised

Sergeant Stewart to contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol to take over and assume
responsibility for the accident scene and for the investigation of this suspected driving while
intoxicated accident.
16.

Contrary to the advice and direction of Sergeant Reece, Sergeant Stewart did not

contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol, but rather remained as the officer in charge of the
scene of the suspected driving while intoxicated accident.
17.

Sergeant Stewart then approached the driver of the second vehicle involved in

the accident. Upon information and belief the driver was told if she insisted upon an accident
report she would receive a summons and possibly lose her license because she did not have
proof of insurance. Shortly thereafter, the driver of the second vehicle involved in the accident
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was permitted by Sergeant Stewart to leave the scene of the suspected driving while intoxicated
accident without receiving any summons and without any accident report being made.
18.

At approximately 2:30 a.m., City of Festus Chief of Police Tim Lewis appeared

at the scene of the suspected driving while intoxicated accident and assumed responsibility as
the officer in charge of the suspected driving while intoxicated accident. Shortly thereafter, the
Festus municipal judge and one of the individuals who had been a passenger in his vehicle were
chauffeured from the scene of the suspected driving while intoxicated accident by City of Festus
Chief of Police Tim Lewis.
19.

The other two individuals who had been passengers in the Festus municipal

judges vehicle were chauffeured by Sergeant Stewart from the scene of the apparent driving
while intoxicated accident to their automobiles parked at the Crystal City Tavern.
20.

No charges were filed, no arrests were made and no police report was prepared

by Chief of Police Tim Lewis or Sergeant Stewart as a result of this suspected driving while
intoxicated accident.
21.

The dispatcher for the City of Festus Police Department was instructed to have

the records of the City of Festus Police Department falsely reflect that the Crystal City Police
Department had assumed responsibility for investigating and preparing the police report
regarding this suspected driving while intoxicated accident.
22.

Sean Cooper reported the wrongdoings referenced above to his immediate

supervisors at the City of Festus Police Department.


23.

Sean Cooper also informed Councilman Richard Flotron of Defendant City of

Festus about the suspected driving while intoxicated accident including the conduct of Chief
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of Police Tim Lewis and Sergeant William Stewart. Sean Cooper further informed Councilman
Flotron that he was concerned he would lose his job, and that he could not afford to lose his
job. Sean Cooper was assured by Councilman Flotron that he had nothing to worry about, he
would not lose his job as a City of Festus police officer.
24.

Sean Cooper was then told to meet with City of Festus Mayor Gene Doyle at

Mayor Doyles home regarding the events that occurred in the early morning hours of March
26. Sean Cooper informed Mayor Doyle about the suspected driving while intoxicated accident
including the conduct of Chief of Police Tim Lewis and Sergeant William Stewart. Sean Cooper
further informed Mayor Doyle that he was concerned he would lose his job, and that he could
not afford to lose his job. Mayor Doyle also assured Sean Cooper that he would not lose his job
as a City of Festus police officer.
25.

Mayor Doyle informed Sean Cooper that he had previously spoken to Chief of

Police Tim Lewis about what had occurred in the early morning hours of March 26, 2004, and
that Chief of Police Tim Lewis admitted not only going to the scene, but also driving the Festus
municipal judge from the scene of the suspected driving while intoxicated accident. However,
Mayor Doyle told Sean Cooper that Chief of Police Tim Lewis represented to him that the
Crystal City Police Department had assumed responsibility for investigating and preparing the
police report of the suspected driving while intoxicated accident.
26.

By ordinance, the City Administrator of Defendant City of Festus is

responsible for the day-to-day activities of all departments with the exception of police and fire,
which are the responsibility of the Mayor.

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27.

On or about May 30, 2004, while on patrol, Sean Cooper was approached by

Councilman Richard Flotron who instructed him to appear the night of June 1st before certain
members of the City Council who were investigating the incidents surrounding the suspected
driving while intoxicated accident that occurred in the early morning hours of March 26, 2004.
28.

Sean Cooper was on duty and appeared in uniform that night to present his

testimony before Mayor Doyle, Councilman Kevin Dennis, Councilman Richard Flotron,
Councilman Earl Cook and Councilman George Vogt regarding the incidents surrounding the
suspected driving while intoxicated accident.
29.

In accordance with City for Festus Police Department procedures, Sean Cooper

had his police department issued recorder with him and activated in order to provide an
accurate record of his testimony before the Mayor and these selected City Council members
regarding the incidents surrounding the suspected driving while intoxicated accident.
30.

At the outset of his appearance, and before he commenced his testimony, Sean

Cooper was advised that this was an informal meeting and not an inquisition. Moreover, Sean
Cooper was assured that no one was going to lose his job, but that the Mayor and these selected
members of the City Council wanted to get to the bottom of what had transpired in the early
morning hours of March 26, 2004, so that it would not happen again.
31.

Sean Cooper advised Mayor Doyle and these selected members of the City

Council that if they did not take appropriate action, he would be subjected to a very hostile
work environment at the City of Festus Police Department. Sean Cooper was assured that
would not happen, and further, was specifically advised that he was covered under the
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whistleblower protection act. With those assurances from Mayor Doyle and the members of
the City Council, Sean Cooper again detailed the incidents surrounding the suspected driving
while intoxicated accident, including the conduct of Chief of Police Tim Lewis and Sergeant
William Stewart.
32.

During the course of his testimony, one of the members of the City Council

inquired whether Sean Cooper was tape recording his testimony. Other members of the City
Council stated that they had no problem with Sean Cooper tape recording his testimony.
33.

Nonetheless, certain members of the City Council expressed concern that they

did not want Sean Coopers testimony to get out to the public and, therefore, Sean Cooper
was requested and did turn over the tape recording of his testimony to Councilman Flotron.
34.

Shortly after his testimony before Mayor Doyle and the selected members of the

City Council regarding the incidents surrounding the suspected driving while intoxicated
accident, including the conduct of Chief of Police Tim Lewis and Sergeant William Stewart, and
contrary to the assurances given to Sean Cooper by Mayor Doyle and members of the City
Council, Chief of Police Tim Lewis informed Sean Cooper that his employment as a City of
Festus Police Officer was terminated.
35.

After Sean Cooper was advised by Chief of Police Tim Lewis that his employment

as a City of Festus Police Officer was to be terminated, the investigation by Mayor Doyle and
the selected members of the City of Festus City Council of the incidents surrounding the
suspected driving while intoxicated accident was abandoned and no further action taken.

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36.

Sean Coopers employment with the City of Festus was terminated in retaliation

for his exercising his right to free speech in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments
to the United States Constitution.
37.

As a result of Defendants actions as alleged herein, Sean Cooper has sustained

lost wages and benefits of employment.


38.

As a result of Defendants actions as alleged herein, Sean Cooper suffered

emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish and suffering, and loss of
enjoyment of life.
39.

As a result of Defendants actions as alleged herein, Plaintiff incurred, and will

continue to incur, attorneys fees and costs of litigation.


WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Sean Cooper prays that the Court enter judgment for Plaintiff and
against Defendant for economic losses, including prejudgment interest, for compensatory
damages, including damages for emotional distress, for reinstatement (or in the alternative, front
pay damages); for attorneys fees and costs of litigation and for such further relief as the Court
deems just and proper.
COUNT II
COMES NOW Plaintiff Sean Cooper and for Count II of his Complaint, states as follows:
1.

For paragraph 1 of Count II of his Complaint, Sean Cooper restates, realleges and

reincorporates herein by reference paragraphs 1 through 39, inclusive, of Count I as if set forth
more fully herein.

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