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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Attorney says fired secretary looks forward to day in court

  • C. John Pleban, the St. Louis attorney for former 10th Judicial Circuit secretary Lynn Helbing, says his client is looking forward to her day in court. On Wednesday, Pleban filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in behalf of Helbing against Circuit Judge Rachel Bringer.


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  • C. John Pleban, the St. Louis attorney for former 10th Judicial Circuit secretary Lynn Helbing, says his client is looking forward to her day in court. On Wednesday, Pleban filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in behalf of Helbing against Circuit Judge Rachel Bringer.
    “Obviously Lynn Helbing is a 20-year plus employee of the court and she is certainly disappointed by these kind of developments and a bit confused by how she could perform her duties so effectively and efficiently for that 20-year period and then all of a sudden when there is a changing of the guard she can’t do anything correctly,” he said. “We’re looking forward to having our day in court. We’re looking forward to the good folks in Hannibal listening to these issues and deciding who is right and who is wrong on this thing.”
    It is far too early to say when the matter might go before a jury.
    “I believe there is a magistrate designation on this that all parties have to agree to,” said Pleban. “Then it will be ultimately transferred to Hannibal, the northern division. It will then have a scheduling conference, discovery deadlines will be set up and then ultimately a trial date set.”
    Is there a chance the trial could be moved somewhere other than Hannibal?
    “Certainly not by us,” said Pleban. “Why wouldn’t she want the people of Hannibal to decide these issues? That’s where she’s a judge.
    “Our position always is we don’t want to go into some back, smoke-filled room to decide these things. We think these are matters of public importance and they should be decided in a public domain, whether it be due process to which she’s entitled by virtue of her position with the court or whether it be an actual jury trial.”
    Pleban did not dismiss the possibility of an out-of-court settlement being reached.
    “We never say never,” he said. “Obviously this is no picnic for anybody. Usually litigation for us is a situation of last resort, not first resort, and that’s true in this case as well.”
    According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, no specific amount in damages is being sought.
    “This is really less about money than it is about reputation,” said Pleban. “When you make your home some place for 20 years and the rug is pulled out from under you in this manner it has some pretty devastating consequences to it. Some people look at these things to make themselves whole, not only in the economic sense, but in just the overall sense that they need some vindication that they weren’t as bad a person as the employer claims.”
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