So, after the O.S. fire chief was fired by Mayor Crystal Dingler and responded with a firey (ahem) lawsuit, U.S. Western District Court Judge Benjamin H. Settle decided David Bathke “suffered damages in the amount of $734,376.50.” When all is accounted for, the true total this costs the city could approach $2 milllion — if not more. First, legal costs: The North Beach News asked Dingler for the estimated attorney costs of the lawsuit (Bathke was asking for $1.4 million). No word, yet, but the NBN is confident the mayor will provide that.
In the six weeks since the decision, the court ruled in favor of several crucial add-ons his attorney asked for. Bathke filed his initial complaint against the OS April 23, 2019 and Judge Settle issued his judgement on April 16, 2021. Bathke asked for “pre-judgment interest” for the 713 days of the trial, citing state-set interest rate for breach of contract tort cases of 12%. That adds about $174,535. There is also post-judgment interest, until Bathke gets paid, but it’s only .06%.
Because of terms of Bathke’s employment contract, he was forbidden from trying to get the city to reimburse him for legal costs. But he had the right to claim out-of-pocket expenses, and he did, asking for $24,000. The city successfully challenged part of that, and the judge ruled OS has to pay him $17,470. That brings the total to about $926,000. But how will the city pay it? If council approves it, Ocean Shores can dig into the General Fund, maybe even make one of those legendary “interfund loans,” pay Bathke in full and be done with it. An alternative is to reach an agreement for monthly payments — which would almost surely include interest. At a modest 2% spread over 20 years, for example, Bathke would end up being paid about $1.5 million — right about what he asked for, in the first place.