King County has settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by two former deputies and one current deputy for $1.35 million, according to Sheriff John Urquhart.
“The settlement was negotiated by King County,” said Sheriff Urquhart. “I did not take part in the negotiations because I was adamantly opposed to any settlement before trial.”
Sheriff Urquhart continued: “This settlement denigrates the anguish suffered by a Metro bus driver who was targeted by deputies. The public deserves to have all the facts laid out publicly where everyone would be forced to testify and be subject to cross-examination under oath, including myself. Now that will not happen.”
The original claim against King County totaled $8 to $9 million. The lawsuit was settled during mediation on Thursday, April 6th. It does not involve the re-hiring of two of the deputies, who were fired for cause in 2015.
The two terminated deputies, Amy Shoblom and Lou Caballero (then a sergeant,) were fired after they filed a complaint against a Metro bus driver. The incident began when the bus driver became frustrated because Caballero and his team had not removed sleeping passengers from his bus. Caballero and Shoblom claimed in writing that the bus driver had used profanity against them, and used the words “don’t do nothing.”
Their written reports of the contact were nearly identical, but they denied colluding. However, the county found a draft of Caballero’s complaint which had been changed to match Shoblom’s.
In addition, when the deputies wrote their reports they did not know the driver was wearing Google Glasses and the interaction was recorded. The recording proved that neither profanity nor poor grammar was used by the driver.
Plaintiff Shoblom was fired for dishonesty and Caballero was fired for dishonesty and retaliation against the Metro bus driver. The third plaintiff was not involved in this incident. She claimed she had been subjected to discrimination and then retaliated against for complaining, despite receiving positive evaluations and not being discipline for any reason. “I am confident there was no discrimination or retaliation,” said Urquhart.
“However I understand a jury could see otherwise, and therefore the desire by King County to mitigate that risk,” said Sheriff Urquhart. Plaintiffs’ attorneys, Lincoln Beauregard and Julie Kays, recently won a jury verdict of over $3 million against the City of Seattle.
“Nevertheless, my strong preference would have been a trial,” Urquhart added. “I am extremely disappointed that now this will not occur.”