Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Dec. 6, 2022

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Clark County files appeal in Don Benton lawsuit

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

Attorneys for Clark County have filed a notice of appeal after Don Benton, the former director of the now-defunct Department of Environmental Services, and two of his former employees prevailed in their lawsuit against the county in May.

The county filed an amended notice June 21 to the Washington Court of Appeals, Division II. The appeal seeks the higher court to review each plaintiffs’ judgment and “each and every adverse ruling and determination” made during the proceedings.

In response, the plaintiffs filed notice of a cross-appeal June 25, seeking the higher court’s review of an Oct. 21, 2019, order regarding the county’s partial motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ amended claims.

A Clark County Superior Court jury awarded Benton, Christopher Clifford, a former program coordinator, and Susan Rice, a former administrative assistant, a total of $693,998 on May 20, after deliberating for more than 20 hours over four days.

The three were laid off in May 2016 in what the county argued was a planned staff reorganization — about two weeks after Benton submitted a whistleblower complaint about then-county manager Mark McCauley.

Clifford helped Benton draft the complaint, and Rice looked it over, according to trial testimony.

They filed their lawsuit in December 2016 alleging hostility and retaliation during their employment.