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Lunde sues Abood, Port of Orcas

Former Orcas Island Port Manager Duane Lunde has filed suit against both the Port of Orcas and Port Commissioner Gary Abood.

The lawsuit is directed at both parties, and it contends that Abood “repeatedly harassed and threatened” Lunde, causing him to develop “an anxiety disorder that was medically diagnosed. The anxiety disorder constituted a disability under Washington Law,” according to Lunde’s attorney, John A. Follis, with the Everett-based firm Anderson Hunter.

Follis contends that port commissioners were informed of Lunde’s disorder, along with information “that continued harassment would likely result in further harm” to him. Although Abood’s colleagues on the port commission reprimanded and censured Abood, the harassment continued, the lawsuit contends, prompting Lunde, “upon the advice of his treating physician, to take a medical leave of absence.”

While on medical leave, Lunde “was informed by the port in March of 2002 that they considered him to have voluntarily terminated his employment with the port,” the lawsuit states.

It claims that the termination was “unlawful,” and that it “discriminated against Mr. Lunde and retaliated against him for reporting the harassment of Commissioner Abood.” It also charges that Lunde was prepared to go back to work if the “unlawful harassment” by Abood stopped.

Lunde is asking that he be paid damages for both his medical treatment and lost wages. He is also seeking damages for “mental anguish and suffering.”

A key question, according to Follis, is whether Abood was acting as an individual, or in his role as port commissioner. If it is in the latter role, the attorney contends, then the port commission is also liable.

The suit was filed Sept. 16 in San Juan County Superior Court. Both the port and Abood have been ordered to respond to this summons within 20 days of that date.

Port Attorney Diana Hancock, of Lopez, told The Sounder that the Port intends to contest the lawsuit, and is now preparing a response. Hancock does not represent Abood, however. “That would be a conflict of interest,” Hancock said.

Abood told The Sounder that he had not yet been served by the lawsuit, and therefore had no comment.

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