Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson has retained former Neosho attorney John Dolence to represent him in a lawsuit filed by council member Steve Hart.

Dolence currently practices law in Webb City. The suit states that City Attorney Steve Hays went to Hart’s office to discuss city of Neosho legal matters in April 2013, and without Hart’s knowledge or permission, Hays, with the intent to do harm to Hart, secretly recorded the conversation in violation of state law.

The document states that after secretly recording the conversation with Hart, Hays, with the intent to do harm to Hart, wrongfully released a copy of a portion of the recorded conversation to third parties, including the news media. Before that release to the news media, it claims that Hays also wrongfully instructed city clerk Nora Houdyshell to release a copy of the recording in response to a series of Sunshine requests made to the city of Neosho, which requested communications between specific officers and employees of the city, which demonstrates that Hays advised the secretly recorded conversation was public record.

The suit also alleges Hays and Davidson conspired together to politically attack council members who opposed Davidson on city issues including, but not limited, to taking actions attempting to have such council members removed from city council. It states that the city attorney and mayor agreed and/or understood that unlawful and/or wrongful means would be used in furtherance of said conspiracy including, but not limited to, having Hays intentionally breach his fiduciary duties of undivided loyalty and confidentiality by releasing the recording. That count asks for judgment against Hays and Davidson jointly in an amount in excess of $25,000.

The suit also asks for punitive damages against both Hays and Davidson, alleging that Hays intentional violation of the rules of conduct were outrageous because of Hays’ “evil” motive and/or reckless indifference to the rights of Hart. It asks the court for judgment against Hays and Davidson for punitive damages of $500,000.