The Western District Missouri Court of Appeals announced yesterday it denied Clay County's request for the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the lawsuit filed by the Clay County Sheriff Department.
In a notice released yesterday to all attorneys on record, the court said, "Please be advised that Respondents-Appellants’s, Clay County, Gene Owen and Luann Ridgeway’s motion for Transfer to Supreme Court is denied."
The lawsuit, filed by Sheriff Paul Vescovo stated Clay County officials underfunded his department's budget in retaliation of its investigation into actions taken by Assistant County Administrator Laurene Portwood.
On Dec. 5, the Western District Missouri Court of Appeals found in favor of the Sheriff's Department.
“The adopted budget left a budget shortage of $755,152 for inmate food and healthcare, roughly 60% less than required to satisfy the historical amounts necessary to cover these vendor contracts,” Dec. 5 court documents state.
Vescovo said the budget underfunded the department to the point it could not pay vendor contracts related to Clay County Detention Center inmate food and healthcare.
Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte said this denial further confirms Ridgeway and Owen have "consistently and wrongfully underfunded the Sheriff’s Department."
"An appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court would be more ridiculous squandering of taxpayer money," he said. "Once more, I call on Commissioners Ridgeway and Owen to stop these legal maneuvers, cease their vendetta against the Sheriff and honor the county’s legal and humanitarian obligations to feed, clothe and see to the medical needs of the detainees in our jail."
Vescovo said he hopes the decision helps all parties move forward.
"We're happy with the court's decision and hope we can move forward swiftly to put this behind us and pay our vendors," he said.
Clay County officials said they have no comment at this time.
Updates to this developing story will be provided as they become available.