Rogers Residents File New Motion In Rogers City Attorney Federal Lawsuit
ROGERS (KFSM) – Two Rogers residents have filed a motion in a federal lawsuit between the City of Rogers and Rogers City Attorney Ben Lipscomb with the intention of both getting a declaratory judgement stating Lipscomb is not qualified to be city attorney and stopping Lipscomb from being paid as city attorney, according to court documents.
Brian Ferguson and Ellen Turner, both taxpayers, property owners and residents of Rogers, filed a motion to intervene on Dec. 29 in an already-existing federal lawsuit that was filed by Lipscomb against the City of Rogers to have some of his job duties reinstated, court documents state.
In September, Rogers city leaders passed an ordinance isolating the city attorney’s duties to prosecutorial matters. The ordinance also created a new staff position that took over civil matters and being the legal advisor to the city. As a result of that ordinance, Lipscomb filed a lawsuit On Nov. 5 in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville against the City of Rogers, seeking to get the ordinance that took away some of his job duties declared unconstitutional.
In response to the lawsuit, the City of Rogers “asserted the defense that Lipscomb has no standing to bring said lawsuit, as he is not qualified to serve as the city attorney for the City of Rogers,” according to court documents.
Ferguson and Turner’s motion to intervene states that they seek a “declaratory judgment finding that Ben Lipscomb is not qualified to serve in the position as city attorney because he is not a qualified elector as required by the Arkansas Constitution, Arkansas statutes and [a] City of Rogers ordinance,” court documents state.
The intervenors (Ferguson and Turner) also seek to “bring a ‘public funds’ illegal exaction case seeking to prohibit the payment of public funds by the City of Rogers to Lipscomb as city attorney,” according to court documents.
Earlier in December, Benton County Prosecutor-elect Nathan Smith decided not to commission Lipscomb as a deputy prosecuting attorney in 2015. This action eliminated more job duties from Lipscomb.
Despite having multiple job duties taken away from him, court documents state Lipscomb is still serving as city attorney for the City of Rogers and being paid a salary of $159,617, plus benefits. Furthermore, he isn’t up for reelection until 2016, officials say.
The motion filed by Ferguson and Turner is aimed at attaching a complaint onto the already-existing federal lawsuit between the City of Rogers and Lipscomb, officials say. The complaint details multiple reasons for why Lipscomb isn’t qualified to hold the office of city attorney, court documents state.
Overseeing the case is District Judge Timothy L. Brooks, and he will decide whether the complaint against Lipscomb will be attached to the already-existing lawsuit, according to officials.
The next hearing for the case is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2015, officials say.
To read the court documents filed by Ferguson and Turner, click here.