WEATHERFORD – In a move not unexpected, the City of Mineral Wells last week filed to have Mayor Christopher Perricone's lawsuit against the city moved from state to federal court.
Perricone filed suit against the city Nov. 4 in the 415th State District Court of Judge Graham Quisenberry in Parker County, citing alleged constitutional rights violations under the First and Fourteenth amendments, among other things, and seeking damages for those alleged constitutional rights violations.
The city, through its Texas Municipal League-appointed attorney Thomas Brandt of Fanning, Harper, Martinson, Brandt & Kutchin PC, on Nov. 25 filed its original answer to the mayor's lawsuit denying the petition's claims and seeking protection for officials. On the same day it filed notice sending the case to federal court.
The case now sits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Fort Worth before Judge Reed C. O'Connor. It is O'Connor's second federal lawsuit involving the City of Mineral Wells filed in his court in as many weeks. American Precision Ammunition last month filed a federal lawsuit against the city and other named defendants.
"Removal is proper because plaintiff's suit involves a federal question," the removal notice filed with the federal court states. "Plaintiff's ... claim and underlying state claim involve a federal claim implicate plaintiff's constitutional rights. As such, this case involves federal questions of which this court has original jurisdiction."
Attending a separate court hearing Monday at the Parker County Courthouse, Perricone said he had just learned of his case's transfer to federal court and said he was waiting to speak with his attorney.
Mineral Wells Mayor Christopher Perricone has sued the City of Mineral Wells, citing a number of alleged wrongdoings by city council and officials including violating his constitutional rights to due process, his ability to set agendas and call special meetings and asking the court to define the word "deal."
The mayor made several claims in his suit dealing with council's vote to censure him in October after finding he violated the city charter. Perricone claims council has hampered his abilities to serve as mayor by keeping him from individually calling special meetings and setting council agendas.
His suit asks the court to define the word "deal" as it relates to interactions between council members and city employees. Perricone also complains of council's actions in halting his investigations into the Mineral Wells Industrial Foundation and matters involving the ammo company.
Perricone's suit seeks awards of damages, judgment interest, court costs, attorneys fees and other relief as determined by the court.
Among its denials of the suit's allegations, the city answers by saying council members have a constitutionally protected right to censure the mayor and therefore council members should have "judicial immunity" and First Amendment protection for that action. The city claims the First Amendment "does not protect plaintiff from criticisms and censure/reprimand by his fellow city council members."
The city's answer says the mayor's petition "fails to state claims for which relief may be granted" and asks the court not to grant monetary recoveries for "any alleged violations of his rights under the Texas Constitution."