In the past two years, San Juan County settled lawsuits with three former employees for a total of $590,665 including attorney fees.
John Genuich, who worked in the county's Department of Community Development, accepted a partial judgment of $85,000 to settle a lawsuit filed about Public Records. According to court records: The Employee asserted claims in the Lawsuit against the Employer for discharge in violation of public policy and Public Records Act (PRA). The total payment was $250,000 and included: $126,054.21 in trust for Breskin Johnson & Townsend PLLC; $92,959.34 for John Genuich and $30,986.45 for his ex-wife.
Chris Laws, who worked as the county's Enforcement Officer, was awarded $150,000. According to court documents: The employee asserted claims in the Lawsuit against the Employer for wrongful termination in violation of public policy and alleged violations of the Open Public Meetings Act (OMPA). Payment was allocated as follows: $60,000 in trust to Breskin Johnson & Townsend PLLC; $90,000 to Chris Laws for general damage.
In 2015, former assistant to the county Clerk, Maureen See, was awarded $30,000 after a jury found in her favor on one of her five claims - the breach of contract claim related to Chapter 15 of the County's personnel rules. The amount of attorney fees awarded were $160,665.
Washington law provides that "[i]n any action in which any person is successful in recovering judgment for wages or salary owed to him or her, reasonable attorney's fees, in an amount to be determined by the court, shall be assessed against said employer or former employer." RCW 49.48.030.
The agreements do not include any admission of liability. "This Agreement does not constitute, and may not be construed as, an admission of liability or wrongdoing on the part of Employer or the Additional Released Parties or an admission of violation of any law. Employer expressly denies liability. The Parties have entered into this Agreement solely to avoid costly litigation. Employee agrees not to assert that this Agreement is an admission of guilt, wrongdoing, and/or liability because Employer does not believe or admit that Employer has done anything wrong or illegal."