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Attorneys call MSHP firing unlawful in Piercy case

Attorneys call MSHP firing unlawful...

Attorneys call MSHP firing unlawful in Piercy case

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Attorneys for former Highway Patrolman Anthony Piercy claim Col. Sandra Karsten's decision to fire him was unlawful.

Tim Van Ronzelen asked a Cole County judge to give them summary judgment on one part of Piercy's lawsuit against Karsten and the Highway Patrol. That part asks the court to send Piercy's firing decision back to Karsten for a punishment "consistent with the [Personnel] Review Board's recommendation."

Karsten bucked the Personnel Review Board's recommendation in December to transfer Piercy out of mid-Missouri. Piercy had been sentenced to two years of supervised probation months prior for negligent operation of a vessel related to the death of Brandon Ellingson at the Lake of the Ozarks in 2014. Piercy put the wrong life vest on Ellingson, which came off after going overboard on the way back to shore under Piercy's custody.

The motion said the wording of state law limits the head of the patrol from firing someone only to when the review board recommends it. The law does allow the colonel to alter the punishment related to fines or suspensions.

"[The law] is provided to give the Superintendent maximum flexibility in suspensions of less than 30 days, fines, demotions and transfers, but it allows her to exercise the extreme remedy of removal...only when a panel of the employee's peers finds that removal is appropriate," the motion said.

The Attorney General's Office argued that Piercy applied the wrong standard of review to three of his four claims in the lawsuit, and asked that they be dismissed.

A hearing date has not been set yet for the case.

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