KITTITAS COUNTY - By taking no action on former Kittitas County employee Darryl Piercy's claim for damages, county officials have denied it.

Piercy, former Community Development Services department director, on Dec. 16, 2008, filed a claim for $850,000 contending the damage stemmed from his being fired Oct. 8, 2008, by county commissioners.

Piercy was put on administrative leave with pay Sept. 5, 2008, for the duration of what county commissioners called a "personnel inquiry."

Commissioners said the action to fire Piercy, in a 2-1 vote, was for "performance related issues" and a determination that his "management and communication skill was not a fit for the organization."

Once the claim was filed, the county had 60 days within which to respond to the claim: denying it, agreeing to it or seeking negotiations.

Another option was to do nothing.

Commissioners met Jan. 6 with legal staff to discuss the claim. Commissioner Chairman Alan Crankovich later said no direction on responding to the claim came out of that meeting.

"They (Piercy and his attorney) can interpret it as a denial and can move forward on any action they want to take," said county Prosecutor Greg Zempel last week.

Piercy's attorney, Gary Lofland of Yakima, said he is working with his client to prepare a lawsuit that will be filed in the near future in Kittitas County Superior Court. He said it would reflect the allegations made in the Dec. 16 claim for damages.

Piercy, who began his job with the county in 2004, in the claim contends the firing was wrongful termination, that commissioners used false reasons for the firing and that he had no negative personnel reports against him up to that point.

Piercy also alleges that his firing was in retaliation for his participation in an investigation of sexual harassment against a county commissioner and for refusing to hire the wife of a commissioner and a friend of one of the commissioners, among other issues that put him at odds with commissioners.

He also claims commissioners committed breech of contract, defamation and "intentional infliction of emotional distress."

The claim for damages does not specify which commissioners are involved in the allegations nor the time frames during which the incidents were supposed to have occurred. Lofland has not responded to requests from the Daily Record for these details.

Lofland said the actual amount of damages sought by Piercy will be determined at the time of the trial.

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