Wednesday, January 4, 2012

City administrator offers settlement with Sun Valley

Councilman files suit against plaintiff’s attorney


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Nils Ribi

Sun Valley City Administrator Sharon Hammer has offered to drop her lawsuit against the city in exchange for a one-year renewal of her employment contract.

Hammer also is offering to drop Sun Valley Councilman Bob Youngman as a defendant in the suit. Her legal action against Councilman Nils Ribi and City Attorney Adam King would remain active, said James Donoval, Hammer's attorney and husband.

"Ms. Hammer has made a written proposal to the City Of Sun Valley to dismiss the City Of Sun Valley and Council Member Youngman from any liability for Council Member Ribi's and City Attorney King's actions, in return for a one year extension of her contract as the City Administrator of Sun Valley," Donoval said in a written statement provided to the Idaho Mountain Express on Dec. 29.

Hammer's lawsuit alleges that Ribi repeatedly mistreated and harassed her, and that after she complained to Mayor Wayne Willich, Ribi launched an effort to get her terminated from her job, with the collusion of Youngman. The suit contends that Ribi obtained confidential information about her, with King's assistance.

When asked whether the city had received the settlement offer, attorney Kirtlan Naylor, representing Sun Valley in this matter, did not address the question specifically.

"Sharon Hammer has sued the City of Sun Valley, and the pleadings that will be filed in defense of this lawsuit will shed light on these circumstances," he said in an email. "Only one side of this matter has been made public so far, so I would hope people withhold judgment until all facts are known."

Youngman did not return a call by press time Tuesday asking whether he received notice of Hammer's intent to drop him from the suit.

Donoval said Tuesday that he had not heard from the city or Naylor regarding the offer.

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Former Councilman Dewayne Briscoe was scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday afternoon as Sun Valley's new mayor. Donoval said he believed the city would wait until the administration was settled in before responding.

"I imagine there will be a week of breathing," Donoval said.

Briscoe did not return a call seeking comment on the matter by press time Tuesday.

Ribi files suit against Donoval

In a separate but related lawsuit filed against Donoval, Ribi and his wife, Patricia Brolin-Ribi, are seeking a jury trial and permanent injunction "restraining the Defendant from making other false and/or defamatory statements about or concerning the Plaintiffs," according to the complaint for damages, filed in 5th District Court on Dec. 30.

In the suit, the Ribis claim that Donoval made statements that defamed Nils Ribi during the days leading up to the filing of Hammer's suit. The allegations stem from letters Donoval allegedly sent to various people, including the mayor, the current City Council members and newly elected city council members. The suit contends that defamatory statements pertained to Ribi's mental and emotional health and alleged misconduct.

"In publishing the statements ... the Defendant was explicitly and implicitly declaring that Mr. Ribi suffered from a serious mental disease and was a threat to the public as a result of such disease," the complaint states. "Subsequent to the making of the statements ... an independent investigator retained by the City of Sun Valley to look into the substance of these statements determined that there was 'insufficient evidence' to support such allegations."

The suit further states that the statements "are false and were made knowingly and deliberately or in reckless disregard of the truth."

The Ribis' attorney, Hailey-based Keith Roark, stated in the complaint that he had demanded a retraction of alleged defamatory statements, but Donoval refused.

Donoval said Tuesday that he had not been served with the suit so could not comment on the allegations in it.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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