A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals has issued a unanimous ruling that says the city of Columbia lacks legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of a Missouri state law that protects government whistleblowers.
The 11-page ruling sends the case involving former Columbia city employee Colleen Spurlock back to Boone County Circuit Court.
Then-Columbia city manager John Glascock accused Spurlock of insubordination in 2021 and gave her the opportunity to resign with two weeks’ salary or be fired. She resigned the following morning, and accused Glascock of abusing his power. Glascock says Spurlock had criticized an assistant city manager and had inserted herself into a travel-related decision he made about her domestic partner, who also worked for the city. According to the ruling, Glascock learned after a June 2021 vacation that Spurlock, her domestic partner and some employees of the city’s IT and finance departments attended a council meeting in support of amending a pay raise ordinance. No amendment to the ordinance was proposed, and Spurlock quotes the assistant city manager as saying Glascock didn’t want to move forward with the amendment at that time.
Glascock viewed the employees’ attendance at the meeting as a betrayal of his leadership, according to Tuesday’s ruling. Spurlock’s lawsuit accuses Glascock of abuse of power.
Tuesday’s ruling, which is written by Judge Edward Ardini, reverses Boone County Judge Brouck Jacobs’ decision to dismiss Spurlock’s lawsuit. The case has been remanded to Boone County Circuit Court.
Glascock has since retired. 939 the Eagle News called Columbia spokeswoman Sydney Olsen regarding the court ruling. Ms. Olsen tells 939 the Eagle that she cannot comment on pending litigation.