A three-year legal battle between the city of Casper and former Councilman Craig Hedquist will continue.
Hedquist is taking his lawsuit against the city to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court dismissed the case, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
Hedquist, a former city councilman, claims that then-city manager John Patterson violated his civil rights by conspiring to sabotage both his political career and the success of his construction company.
But a district court judge dismissed Hedquist’s suit last month in a summary judgment.
A judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit that former Casper City Councilman Craig Hedquist file…
“Plaintiff’s claims of a conspiracy to remove Mr. Hedquist from the City Council lacks supporting evidence,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson.
Johnson also rejected Hedquist’s claim that his company was labeled a non-responsible bidder for public contracts because he had criticized the city’s bidding process.
Citing delays in public projects Hedquist Construction was working on, Johnson ruled that there was no evidence that Hedquist’s public comments had led to his being barred from receiving city contracts — Hedquist’s “mere speculation does not suffice,” the judge wrote.
Hedquist is appealing both Johnson’s final judgment dismissing the case as well as several prior orders denying his attorneys access to certain city documents relevant to the lawsuit. His attorney, John Robinson, declined to comment on the appeal.
The legal victory, on April 14, was a bright spot for an embattled city administration.
“It’s certainly nice to have a conclusion and even nicer to have this conclusion,” then-City Manager V.H. McDonald said at the time.
McDonald had announced his retirement the week before in the wake of the release of a survey that indicated low morale at the Casper Police Department and accused McDonald and city management of ignoring complaints from high-ranking officers.
While McDonald had initially intended to resign June 1, he moved up his retirement to mid-April at the request of City Council leadership.
Hedquist’s time on Council was viewed by many as especially contentious, and after his resignation and Patterson’s retirement, City Hall moved to a more cooperative era and a smooth working relationship between Council and city management.
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That cooperation has started to fray in light of the accusations leveled by the police department and a cohort of newly elected council members who are comfortable confronting city management.
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Before the case’s dismissal, a trial was scheduled for June and could have resulted in a hefty monetary ruling against the city at a time when the municipality has been battered by Wyoming’s economic downturn and lower-than-expected sales tax revenue this year.
Hedquist is also suing former Casper police chief and current City Councilman Chris Walsh, alleging that he illegally used law enforcement databases to access information about Hedquist at the behest of Patterson. Walsh has denied any wrongdoing.
That lawsuit is ongoing.