Jury selection begins in Benton lawsuit against county
VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Jury selection has started in a lawsuit against Clark County being pursued by former Republican state senator and county official Don Benton and two former county employees.
A jury had not yet been selected by late Monday afternoon, The Columbian reported. Clark County Superior Court Judge Gregory Gonzales and attorneys spent the day questioning potential jurors.
The trial, expected to last up to three weeks, is taking place at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.
Benton was the director of the now-defunct county Department of Environmental Services. He filed the lawsuit in December 2016 in Clark County Superior Court, along with former subordinates Susan Rice and Christopher Clifford.
The lawsuit alleges, in part, that they experienced hostility and harassment after resisting improper actions by then-manager Mark McCauley. Amid a staff reorganization in 2016, the three plaintiffs were laid off in what McCauley described as a cost-saving measure.
Benton later took a job with former President Donald Trump’s administration. The county council terminated McCauley’s contract in 2017.
The plaintiffs’ counsel amended their complaint in 2019 with new legal claims, including that the county failed to follow its own resolutions, ordinances and home-rule charter when McCauley dissolved the department.
The plaintiffs are represented by the Seattle-based law firm Frey Buck, while Seattle-based law firm Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch is representing the county.