Port commissioners dismissed from lawsuit

Two Port of Coupeville commissioners won’t be individually liable in a lawsuit that was brought against both them and the port.

On Friday, Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock dismissed commissioners John Mishasek and William Bell from the lawsuit brought by former executive director Forrest Rambo.

The lawsuit, however, will continue with the port as the defendant.

Rambo alleges that he was wrongly terminated by the port and is seeking $120,000 in damages.

The lawsuit cites whistle-blower laws and alleges that the two commissioners fired him because he questioned the legality of the port’s harbormaster also being a paying tenant of the port-owned Coupeville wharf.

The commissioners fired Rambo in September 2016 in a 2-1 vote.

Mishasek and Bell voted to terminate Rambo while Mike Diamanti, formerly the board president, voted against the action. Diamanti later resigned in protest.

The attorneys representing the port filed a motion to dismiss Mishasek and Bell as defendants, citing state law that grants elected officials immunity from liability for discretionary decisions or the failure to make discretionary decisions.

Chris Skinner, attorney for Rambo, argued that the two commissioners should be individually liable under a state law regarding the unlawful withholding of wages.

Skinner said it specifically applies to elected officials.

Skinner argued that Rambo is owed “comp time” and vacation time.

“In addition to being illegal, it was fundamentally unfair to treat an employee in that manner,” he said.

Hancock, however, said case law prevents elected officials from being liable unless they violated clearly established constitutional rights that a reasonable person would be aware of and that the wage issue didn’t involve constitutional rights.

Rambo

Rambo

More in News

A chance to get to know the Captain Whidbey, new owners

Over a century old and a central Whidbey landmark, the Captain Whidbey… Continue reading

New education, training program for juvenile court

Island County Juvenile Court will soon start a pilot program aimed at… Continue reading

Naval search and rescue team rescues two people from Cascade Mountains

A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey… Continue reading

Expert: Chief followed protocol

David Marks’ arrest of suspect ‘exactly what we teach’

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times.
                                Donovan McCulley cheers at the end of the commencement ceremony Saturday.
Oak Harbor grads show ‘inspirational ambition’

Oak Harbor High School’s class of 2018 reached graduation through four years… Continue reading

Power outage planned for Thursday in Coupeville

About 900 Puget Sound Energy customers in Coupeville will be left in… Continue reading

Marc Gallaway
Oak Harbor grad earns state Principal of the Year honor

Marc Gallaway, a 1988 graduate of Oak Harbor High School and currently… Continue reading

Survey shows mostly positive impression of rural events

Though public hearings on the issue have often been contentious on both… Continue reading

Port executive director gets raise

The Port of Coupeville Executive Director is receiving a pay raise. Chris… Continue reading

Most Read