Eggum Serves as Arbitrator in a Whistleblower Suit Against Water Environmental Services of Clackamas County
Lane Powell Shareholder Susan K. Eggum recently served as the arbitrator in a whistleblower and wrongful termination suit filed by Dan Henninger, a former technical services manager for the Water Environmental Services (“WES”) Department of Clackamas County. Henninger claimed he was terminated in retaliation for complaining that his supervisor, Mike Kuenzi, was entering contracts with outside vendors in violation of county and state contracting rules, as well as misrepresenting the need to pay funds to an outside vendor. Kuenzi claimed he terminated Henninger because Henninger spent too much time on an internal investigation. Eggum found that although Henninger could be faulted for taking many months on the internal investigation, Henninger was discharged in substantial part for complaining about Kuenzi’s abuse or violations of not only county rules, but also Oregon contracting laws. Eggum ordered Clackamas County to pay $322,236 in damages. Regarding her decision, Eggum was quoted in a March 16 article that appeared in The Oregonian.
In a 31-page order, attorney Susan Eggum found “the evidence indicated not merely that claimant had an objectively reasonable belief that Kuenzi’s conduct was not in the public’s best interest. The preponderance of evidence demonstrated that Kuenzi’s actions and conduct were willful violations of not only county rules but also state laws.”
The decision has resulted in the Clackamas County administrator putting Kuenzi on leave and calling for an audit of Kuenzi’s contracting practices. The decision and subsequent audit have been featured in The Oregonian in three online articles titled “Clackamas County Must Pay $322,236 for Wrongful Dismissal of Whistleblower,” “Clackamas County Department Head Awarded Contracts Without Competitive Bidding” and “Employees Claimed County Paid Contractor Twice for the Same Work.”