Brocato's lawsuit dismissed

By Chris Collins October 22, 2012 09:48 am

By Chris Collins

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A million-dollar lawsuit filed more than two years ago by former Baker City manager Steve Brocato against the city, four City Council members who fired him in 2009, and a community resident, has been dismissed, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

The agreement was signed Oct. 7 by Kimberlee C. Morrow, attorney for the defendants, and Shelley Russell, who represented Brocato in the lawsuit filed on May 24, 2010.

A trial in the case had been set to begin today in U.S. District Court in Pendleton.

According to the court order, the action was dismissed “with prejudice,” which means it cannot be brought to court again, and with no costs awarded to either party.

If, however, the agreement is not “consummated” within 60 days, the order of dismissal will be set aside, the court record states.

Current Baker City Manager Mike Kee said the city, and the four councilors named as defendants, have signed off on the agreement. The paperwork next will be sent back to the court and signed by the judge.

Kee declined to comment further, stating that one element of the settlement calls for the details to remain undisclosed.

In an email to the Herald this morning, Morrow wrote: “The case is now resolved. We have no further comment.”

Brocato, a former Baker City manager whom the City Council fired on June 9, 2009, sued the city, councilors Dennis Dorrah, Beverly Calder, Aletha Bonebrake and Clair Button, and Baker City resident Gary Dielman.

The four councilors voted to fire Brocato.

The three other councilors in office then — Milo Pope, Andrew Bryan and Sam Bass — voted against the motion to fire Brocato.

Brocato claimed the councilors were angry and fired him after he sought an opinion from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission in April 2009 regarding a possible conflict of interest over a proposed property maintenance ordinance. In May 2009, Brocato asked the city’s community service officer to inspect each councilor’s property to determine if any would be affected by changes to the ordinance.

In his claim against Dielman, which a federal judge dismissed earlier this year, Brocato accused Dielman of defaming him and invading his privacy by making false statements in the media and through emails.

The judge also dismissed all but one of Brocato’s claims against the city and the four councilors.

The one issue that would have been considered by a jury had the complaint gone to trial was Brocato’s claim that the four councilors made false statements about him that harmed his reputation and prevented him from finding another job comparable to his role as city manager.

Brocato was hired as city manager in 2007.

After he was fired, Brocato’s supporters in the community and at City Hall mounted a campaign to recall Dorrah and Calder from the City Council.

(Button and Bonebrake were newcomers to the council and were exempt from recall.)

Voters defeated the recall effort by a 2-1 margin in October 2009.