Former Collinsville city manager’s motion to compel granted in Whistleblower suit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 8, 2017

St. Clair County Associate Judge Chris Kolker granted the former Collinsville city manager’s motion to compel following a discovery dispute in his Whistleblower suit alleging he was terminated for reporting inappropriate actions.

St. Clair County Associate Judge Chris Kolker granted the former Collinsville city manager’s motion to compel following a discovery dispute in his Whistleblower suit alleging he was terminated for reporting inappropriate actions.

Scott Williams filed the lawsuit on July 11 against the City of Collinsville, Mayor John Miller, Councilwoman Cheryl Brombolich and Councilman Jeff Stehman, alleging violations of the Illinois Whistleblower Act.

According to the complaint, Williams was hired as city manager for the City of Collinsville on Sept. 12, 2012. His contract was to run until September 2015.

However, in September 2014, he claims he learned that Brombolich was misusing the city’s credit cards and accounts. Williams claims he placed Brombolich on administrative leave and reported the misconduct to the Collinsville police department.

In June 2015, Williams alleges he learned that Miller actively solicited and accepted free dirt form a city contractor. Rod Cheatham, the city’s former street director, submitted a written complaint regarding the incident, the suit states. Williams alleges he forwarded the complaint to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons.

Then on July 13, 2015, the defendants voted to suspend Williams from employment and placed him on administrative leave. The defendants later refused to renew his employment contract and ended his employment prematurely. Williams’ last day of work was July 17, 2015, the suit states.

Williams alleges the defendants retaliated against him for his whistleblowing acts and intentionally thwarted and refused the renewal of his employment contract.

Williams filed a motion to compel on Sept. 5 through attorney Falon Wrigley and Stephen Wigginton of Armstrong Teasdale LLP in St. Louis.

He argues that the defendants failed to respond or answer to his discovery requests for roughly three months without justification or excuse. Then when they were filed in March, they were “grossly deficient.”

Williams claims he made good faith efforts to resolve the discovery dispute and agreed to allow them until Aug. 15 to cure the alleged deficiencies. However, he claims the defendants made no effort to respond or contact the plaintiff.

Then on Aug. 23, defendants’ counsel stated that a response would be filed by Sept. 2. Williams alleges the defendants had not responded at the time the motion was filed.

City of Collinsville filed a response to Williams’ motion to compel on Oct. 2 through attorneys Thomas Chibnall and Heidi Eckert of Lowenbaum Law in St. Louis.

The defendant argues that written discovery was served upon the defendants on Dec. 7, 2016, and they responded individually on March 8.

Williams provided a Golden Rule Letter on Aug. 1, identifying what he claims were deficiencies in the discovery responses.

The City of Collinsville replied to the letter on Sept. 5, the same day Williams’ filed its motion to compel.

“Despite Defendant’s response to Plaintiff’s letter, Defendant has received no communication from Plaintiff regarding issues pertaining to its discovery responses.

“As such, Plaintiff’s Motion fails to address with particularity which responses are deficient and how they are deficient … Without such clarity, Defendants cannot properly respond to Plaintiff’s Motion or attempt to resolve any such issues,” the response states.

Williams’ motion to compel was granted on Oct. 9 with the defendants’ objections overruled.

A status conference is set for Nov. 20 at 9 a.m.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 16-L-359

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