2019 JUSTICE FOR WHISTLEBLOWER LINDA ROBB: Walla Walla Jury Awards Former Benton/Franklin County Human Services Administrator Linda Robb $1.5 Million In Compensatory Damages Caused By Whistleblower Retaliation And Discrimination

Ms. Robb proved that she was retaliated against and wrongfully terminated for opposing efforts to privatize the Crisis Response Unit in 2015, because twenty years before, it was privatized and became a monopoly, requiring the counties to intervene to protect the citizens from high costs and poor service. 

The jury found:

  • The Counties wrongfully discharged Ms. Robb for reporting improper governmental actions; and
  • The Counties retaliated against Ms. Robb by terminating her for reporting sexual harassment

Click here to see Robb civil complaint

Click here to see Robb jury verdict and judgment

Click here for Court’s jury instructions

For detailed facts about the case, go to “Trials and Settlements” and click on Robb.

In Addition To The $1.5 Million Already Awarded By The Jury, Court Awards Linda Robb An Additional $965,100.75 For Attorney Fees And Costs In Wrongful Discharge Case Against Benton And Franklin Counties Total Recovery: $2,526,420.75

March 4, 2019

Walla Walla, WA

Today Superior Court Judge the Honorable John Lohrmann signed a stipulated judgment awarding Linda Robb $965,100.75 in attorney fees and costs in her wrongful discharge case against Benton and Franklin Counties.  This is in addition to the $1.56 million jury award she received from the jury in January.  Jack Sheridan said, “by agreeing to our hourly rates and hours worked on this case, the Counties saved themselves thousands of dollars that would have been incurred by the Sheridan Law Firm (and thus paid by the defendants) in any motion practice related to plaintiff’s petition for attorney fees and costs, which are awarded by law in cases like this. Ms. Robb is pleased that she can now put all of this behind her and move on with her life.”

Click here to see stipulated judgment on attorney fees and costs

Click here to see jury verdict and judgment on jury verdict

Linda Robb Vindicated—Jury Awards Former Human Services Administrator $1.5 Million In Damages For Retaliation And Wrongful Discharge In Whistleblower Case Against Benton And Franklin Counties

 

January 31, 2019

Walla Walla, WA

Today a twelve-member Walla Walla jury awarded Linda Robb, the former Human Services Administrator for the Benton and Franklin Counties Department of Human Services, $1,561,320 in damages for whistleblower retaliation.

The evidence produced at trial showed that through the winter of 2014, Benton County Commissioner Shon Small was in talks with Barbara Mead, the then head of Lourdes, about giving the Crisis Response Unit (CRU) to Lourdes.  At the time, the CRU was a county department under Human Services, that provided assistance to persons in need of mental health services, and made referrals to inpatient facilities for those who need that level of care.  Ms. Robb, as head of Human Services, was in charge of the CRU and was responsible for guiding its future.  Commissioner Small kept those discussions with Ms. Mead from Ms. Robb, and ordered her subordinates and the Benton County administration to not tell Ms. Robb what he was doing.

In March, 2015, Ms. Robb learned from two subordinates that Small was working to give the CRU to Lourdes.  Upon learning this, she gave two presentations to the Commissioners and another to the public outlining the potential for a conflict of interest if the same company that has the CRU also has the inpatient beds.  The risk would be that the company would funnel patients, not for medical reasons, from the CRU to fill empty inpatient beds.

At trial, Mr. Robb testified that from that point forward, Small retaliated against her.  At one point Small said to her:

“you don’t need to explain anything to me… as far as I am concerned you are a pathetic liar and human being and I will never trust anything you say. You are a miserable liar and person and I do not want to ever see or listen to you again.”

Small then bragged about his statement to the other commissioners and to Ms. Mead (in an email).

Ms. Robb reported Small’s conduct to Janet Taylor, who was the Franklin County Human Resources Director at the time.  She began a hostile work environment investigation focused on Small.  At trial, plaintiff argued that once Benton County found out about the Taylor investigation they worked to fire Ms. Robb.  She was sent home on administrative leave and then fired.  Both actions were covered in the local media.  No investigation into Small’s conduct was ever completed.  Ms. Taylor was removed from her position by the Franklin County Board before she could complete the investigation.  Ms. Taylor testified that she was told that she was removed because Benton County wanted her removed.  When Ms. Robb was terminated and Ms. Taylor was removed from her position, Ms. Taylor testified that she gave Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant 600 pages of documents and a timeline (as an electronic file) outlining the facts related to the Robb harassment complaint against Small and in rebuttal to Benton County’s decision to terminate Ms. Robb.  Mr. Sant testified that he never got it.  The 600-page document was never used to complete the investigation into Small’s alleged misconduct. The document was produced by Franklin County during the litigation and was admitted as an exhibit at trial.

Ms. Robb testified that she brought her concerns about Small to Benton County Commissioner Beaver, who initially suggested that Small, who was the Benton County Commissioner assigned to oversee Human Services, could be reassigned to another task to solve the problem, but he quickly withdrew that suggestion in an email.  Beaver voted to send Ms. Robb on administrative leave for alleged “misconducts,” which were never identified, and he also voted for Ms. Robb’s termination.

Benton County Commissioner Delvin also voted to send Ms. Robb on administrative leave for alleged “misconducts,” and he also voted for Ms. Robb’s termination. Delvin became the Commissioners’ spokesperson in newspaper articles that covered Ms. Robb’s being sent on administrative leave and covered her termination.  Ms. Robb and Commissioner Delvin were named in both articles.

Franklin County Commissioners Koch and Miller voted in favor of Ms. Robb’s termination (they were not consulted by Benton County regarding sending Ms. Robb on administrative leave). Only Commissioner Peck voted against her termination.

Jack Sheridan, the attorney representing Ms. Robb said, “Justice was done.  This case revealed the terrible reality that the county commissioners are not accountable for their actions. Small can say or do anything to the Benton County staff and can have them terminated on a whim, but unlike a corporate executive, he can’t be fired.  He can’t be counseled, and he can’t be suspended.”  “Ms. Robb’s staff betrayed her because Small told them to do so, and because they feared for their jobs.”

He said, “Linda Robb has been vindicated. The courthouse and the ballot box are the only two places the People can hold these commissioners accountable.”

Click here to see Robb jury verdict form

Click here to see Robb – Trial Brief

Click here to see Taylor outline

Click here to see “Linda found out” email

Click here to see Robb report to Taylor of Small comments

Click here to see Sant email to Benton County seeking evidence re Robb admin leave

Click here to see Small email to Mead bragging about liar comment to Robb

Click here to see Beaver email declining to help Ms. Robb by reassigning Small

Click here to see admin leave letter signed by Benton County Administrator David Sparks

Click here to see newspaper accounts of Small’s work to send the CRU to Lourdes and Delvin’s quotes regarding sending Mr. Robb on administrative leave and firing

Click here to see Robb termination letter

Click here to see Tri-City Herald article

Former Benton And Franklin County Human Services Administrator Files Discrimination And Whistleblower Lawsuit In Walla Walla County

June 13, 2016

Walla Walla, WA

Today, Linda Robb, the former Human Services Administrator for the Benton and Franklin Counties Department of Human Services, filed a discrimination and whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against her former employers after the defendants failed to seek more information or talk settlement.

Jack Sheridan, the attorney representing Ms. Robb said, “You can’t sue government unless you first file a claim and wait sixty days, to give the defendant time to investigate the case and to discuss settlement. Ms. Robb filed in March, and mo one from either county contacted us to learn more about the case or to talk settlement, so today we filed the lawsuit.” The complaint alleges that Ms. Robb and other women were mistreated by Benton County Commissioner Small, who she claims created a hostile work environment, and that she was fired for opposing the privatization of the Crisis Response Unit, because it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. A jury trial will take place sometime next year.

According to Sheridan, under Washington law, lawsuits against a county may be filed in an adjacent county to avoid possible bias by judges in the county being sued.

Click here to 6/13/16 Robb Complaint

Click here to see June 2016 Tri-City Herald article

Former County Human Services Administrator Files Whistleblower And Discrimination Claims Against Benton And Franklin CountiesMarch 4, 2016

Tri-Cities, WA

Today Linda Robb, the former Human Services Administrator for the Benton and Franklin County Department of Human Services, filed administrative claims with both counties seeking damages for terminating her employment on August 6, 2015.

Ms. Robb alleges that she was retaliated against and wrongfully terminated for opposing efforts to privatize the Crisis Response Unit in 2015, because twenty years before, it was privatized and became a monopoly, requiring the counties to intervene to protect the citizens from high costs and poor service. Her attorney, Jack Sheridan, said, “the commissioners seem to have forgotten the lessons from before, and are about to repeat the earlier mistakes.”

Ms. Robb also alleges that she was discriminated and harassed by Benton County Commissioner Shon Small, who mistreated her owing to her gender, and that the county boards failed to protect her from Small.

Ms. Robb seek damages for lost wages and emotional harm.

Under Washington law, Ms. Robb now must wait sixty-days before filing a lawsuit. Her attorney, Jack Sheridan, said, “this case shows some examples of government at its worst. We look forward to bringing these claims in front of a jury.”

Click here to see Tri-City Herald Article

030416 Robb Benton County Tort Claim_Redacted Appendix 1-61

030416 Robb Benton County Tort Claim_Redacted Appendix 62-100

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030416 Robb Franklin County Tort Claim_Redacted Appendix 1-74

030416 Robb Franklin County Tort Claim_Redacted appendix A75 to end

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