By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
After an initial notice of tort claim in late 2021, Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bauer officially filed a civil suit against Bonner County commissioners and Bonner County Chief Information Officer Brad Ptashkin in July, then submitted an amended complaint leveling a handful of additional allegations against the parties in August.
According to Idaho District Court records, a telephonic scheduling conference has been slated with Judge David C. Nye for Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 — one week after the court’s deadline for each party to file joint litigation and discovery plans in the case.
Bauer, an employee in the prosecutor’s office since 2007, filed a notice of tort claim against Bonner County on Dec. 28, 2021. The notice didn’t constitute a lawsuit, but rather served as a warning that grounds for a case might exist centered largely on allegations of “malicious defamation” and “libel with malice.” Bauer was removed from advising the board of county commissioners on Jan. 3.
Records show that Bauer’s lawyer, William Mauk of Boise firm Mauk Miller & Hawkins, PLLC, filed the official complaint against the commissioners and Ptashkin on July 1. While the lawsuit names commissioners Jeff Connolly and Steve Bradshaw only in their official capacities, Commissioner Dan McDonald and Ptashkin are named in both their official and individual/personal capacities. Bonner County, as an entity, is also named in the suit.
According to the amended complaint filed Aug. 25, Bauer’s action is “for legal and equitable relief and monetary damages” brought on by several claims, including “deprivation of his procedural due process rights related to his employment”; “deprivation of his liberty interests in his good name, professional status and reputation”; “retaliation taken against him for engaging in protected activity under Idaho’s Protection of Public Employees Act”; and “various breach of contract, defamation and other tort claims under Idaho law.”
Specific instances of each claim are outlined in the 24-page complaint, including the alleged findings of the independent law firm that Bonner County Human Resources retained to investigate Bauer’s initial grievance in December 2021. According to Bauer’s amended complaint, the commissioners and Ptashkin “refused to cooperate and engage with the investigation at any level,” reportedly blocking access to documents and county computer systems. The alleged findings of that investigation include harassment on the part of McDonald, and the dissemination of “malicious rumors” by McDonald, Connolly and Ptashkin.
The amended complaint features specific allegations against McDonald, which Bauer claims took place in July and August, including that the commissioner “unilaterally interfered with Bauer’s service as legal counsel to the Bonner County Fair Board and its Director, contradicting legal advice Bauer had given to the Fair Board and effectively impairing Bauer’s ability to render independent legal service.”
Bauer also alleges that McDonald told various department heads “not [to] include or engage with Mr. Bauer on any business” in an August communication, and that the commissioner posted to Facebook in response to the tort claim: “This is what happens when you try to drain the swamp, aka Good Old Boys network here in Bonner County. They fabricate accusations based on hearsay.”
He allegedly went on to write that the “network” “doesn’t work for the people of the County, but rather only looks to feather their own bed via taxpayer dollars.”
Bauer is requesting a trial by jury, and wishes to be awarded reinstatement to his former position of employment or a position similar in stature; all economic losses and damages; $300,000 for general and compensatory losses; injunctive and declaratory relief; punitive damages; interest and attorney fees.
Talking to the Reader on Dec. 7, Bauer said: “Don’t be surprised if there is another amended complaint because things have just developed.”
“It’s a dynamic situation,” he added.
While Connolly, Bradshaw and Ptashkin did not comment before press time, McDonald did tell the Reader via email on Dec. 6: “We can say that we find the complaint filed by Bauer to be without merit based solely on hearsay and lacks any credibility.”
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