Clark County to pay $1.4M to settle termination lawsuit

The Clark County Council has agreed to pay Don Benton and two other former county employees $1.4 million less than four months after a jury awarded the trio $693,998 in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

The county announced Wednesday that the council authorized the settlement with Benton, a former Washington state senator and former director of the now-closed Clark County Department of Environmental Health, program coordinator Christopher Clifford and administrative assistant Susan Rice.

Details about the distribution of the funds were not disclosed. It said the payout "fully and finally resolves their pending claims against Clark County and resolves any related insurance coverage claims between Clark County and its insurance carriers," the Columbian reported.

The three had been laid off in 2016, just after Benton submitted a whistleblower complaint about then-county manager Mark McCauley. Their complaint accused McCauley of illegal actions and political retaliation.

In May, the jury awarded Benton $67,798 while Clifford and Rice, who had worked for the county for 19 years, each received six-figure awards.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys noted that Benton, who was a Republican state senator at the time, was awarded less, in part, because he was able to find a job easier than the others, so his economic damages were mitigated.

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