Clark County appeals Benton lawsuit outcome

July 14, 2021 GMT

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Attorneys for Clark County, Washington have filed a notice of appeal in a lawsuit in which Don Benton, the former director of the now-defunct Department of Environmental Services, and two of his former employees prevailed in May.

The county filed an amended notice in June to the Washington Court of Appeals, Division II seeking a review each plaintiffs’ judgment and “each and every adverse ruling and determination” made during the proceedings, The Columbian reported.

In response, the plaintiffs filed notice of a cross-appeal seeking the higher court’s review of a 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 after deliberating over four days.

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The three were laid off in 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.

Benton, a former Republican state lawmaker, later took a job with former President Donald Trump’s administration.

The complaint accused McCauley of illegal actions and political retaliation. The county council terminated McCauley’s contract in 2017.