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Wilkins v. Office of the Missouri Attorney General

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

June 16, 2015

RANDOLPH W. WILKINS, Appellant,
v.
OFFICE OF THE MISSOURI ATTORNEY GENERAL and CHRIS KOSTER, Respondents

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. Honorable Robin Ransom Vannoy.

David T. Streett, St. Louis, MO, for appellant.

Joel Poole and Karin Schute, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, MO, for respondents.

Patricia L. Cohen, Presiding Judge. Roy L. Richter, J., and Robert M. Clayton III, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 272

Patricia L. Cohen, Presiding Judge

Introduction

Randolph Wilkins (Plaintiff) appeals the judgment of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis in favor of the Office of the Missouri Attorney General (OMAG) on his claim that the OMAG discriminated against him on the basis of age and disability in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). Plaintiff asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the OMAG's motion for a protective order and to quash the trial subpoena served on Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. We affirm.

Page 273

Factual and Procedural Background

In January 2006, Plaintiff, then age 57 and hearing impaired, began working as an enforcement investigator in the OMAG's consumer fraud division. Citing interpersonal problems and insubordination, the OMAG terminated Plaintiff's employment in March 2010.

Plaintiff filed a petition against the OMAG and Attorney General Koster alleging discrimination and wrongful discharge in violation of the MHRA (Count I), Missouri common law (Count II), and Article IV, Section 19 of the Missouri Constitution, which grants hiring preference to former members of the United States armed services (Count III). In addition to filing answers, Attorney General Koster filed a motion to dismiss all counts of Plaintiff's petition, and the OMAG filed a motion to dismiss Counts II and III. After hearing arguments on the defendants' motions to dismiss, the trial court entered an order dismissing Count II against the OMAG and Count III against the OMAG and Attorney General Koster.

During pre-trial discovery, Plaintiff sought to depose Attorney General Koster. The defendants refused to produce Attorney General Koster and suggested that Plaintiff instead request a corporate designee deposition pursuant to Rule 57.03(b)(4).[1] Plaintiff filed notice of a Rule 57.03(b)(4) deposition, and the defendants produced Attorney General Koster's deputy chief of staff, Rhonda Meyer. At her deposition, which does not appear in the record on appeal, Ms. Meyer testified that Attorney General Koster had no direct involvement in or firsthand knowledge of the events leading to Plaintiff's termination.[2]

Plaintiff subsequently dismissed with prejudice his remaining claims against Attorney General Koster. As a result, the sole count before the trial court was Plaintiff's Count I against the OMAG. In Count I, Plaintiff alleged that the OMAG discriminated against him on the basis of age and disability in: failing to grant Plaintiff a pay increase; paying younger investigators higher salaries; allowing Plaintiff's co-workers to harass him by lowering the volume on his electronic devices and complaining that he spoke too loudly; failing to ...


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