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Ellisville Residents Want City to Pay Attorney Fees After Charter Lawsuit

The five residents are requesting reimbursement after they were named in a lawsuit by Councilman Matt Pirrello for petitioning for recall earlier this year.

Five Ellisville residents named in a lawsuit filed by Ellisville Councilman Matt Pirrello requested reimbursement for attorney fees at the Ellisville City Council meeting Wednesday.

The lawsuit, in which Pirrello claimed that Article 9 of Ellisville’s city charter was unconstitutional, was filed late August against the City of Ellisville and five residents who had been petitioning for the recall of Pirrello and council members Roze Acup, Dawn Anglin, Troy Pieper and Linda Reel. Recall action had been stirring after the council voted in favor of a Walmart project and tax increment financing (TIF) for the development.

Article 9 governs the recall process of elected officials, but Pirrello argued the text lacked the inclusion of specified cause for recall. St. Louis County Judge Thomas Prebil declared the language unconstitutional Sept. 5 and issued an injunction prohibiting any further recall activity.

Prebil also dismissed the residents -- Julia Dolan, Mary Ann Dust, Sandra McGrath, Vincent McGrath and Patti Murphy -- from the case.

"We were forced to hire an attorney," Murphy said. "The real beef Pirrello had was with the City of Ellisville."

Sandra McGrath, Vincent McGrath and Murphy all spoke during public comments at the Dec. 5 council meeting, crediting Mayor Adam Paul for assisting by covering $500 -- or half -- of the attorney fees and asking the City to reimburse the remaining cost.

"Your suit did not need to include the five of us," Sandra McGrath said. "If the city does not pay our fees, we will look into other options."

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