Tyler Miller files second tort claim against Columbia 911 Communications District, alleging damage to reputation, business relationships

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - The Columbia 911 Communications District board of directors reviewed two investigative reports regarding allegations of misconduct by the former executive director earlier this year, and also reviewed a secondary investigation into the motives of Tyler Miller, who reported the misconduct. Miller was a subcontractor with the district working on a radio communications project in 2016.A former radio communications subcontractor for the Columbia 911 Communications District filed a second tort claim notice against the district's board of directors last month, alleging the district retaliated against him when his work contract was terminated in January.

Tyler Miller, 34, of Scappoose, filed a tort claim notice claiming the district, its legal counsel and a contractor for the 911 district retaliated against him after he brought forth allegations that the district's former executive director had sexually harassed coworkers years prior.

Among other damages, Miller argues a district investigation into his actions and its release cost him his job as a reserve officer for the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, his reputation in the community and his election to a seat on the district's board, according to the notice.

Miller previously filed a tort claim in May on similar grounds that targeted the district and the former executive director.

In February, Miller filed a complaint with the Columbia 911 board of directors regarding misconduct by former Executive Director Steve Watson. An investigation concluded by Bullard Law in March validated Miller's claims against Watson, who resigned in late April.

MillerA secondary investigation by Bullard Law in April, however, argued that Miller was aware of allegations of sexual harassment for more than a year before reporting them, and he only brought them forward to retain a job or some scope of work with the district.

Miller was hired at the district as a subcontractor in 2016 to work on a radio communications upgrade project, but was terminated in January at the request of Watson. Records show the two men's working relationship deteriorated prior to the termination.

In late April, the Spotlight reported that Miller had been the impetus to the internal investigation, but allegedly used information in exchange for compensation or greater responsibility in the district, according to two redacted investigative reports conducted by Bullard Law.

Following the investigation, Miller was suspended from his volunteer status as a reserve deputy and became the subject of a criminal investigation by the Oregon State Police. The case was reviewed by the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office, which ultimately declined to file criminal charges.

A letter of no-complaint from Deputy District Attorney Bryan Censoni stated, however, that while the DA would likely be unable to prove criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt, Miller did act in a retaliatory fashion.

In mid-May and on the heels of the Bullard Law release of the investigations, Miller also lost an election bid for a seat on the Columbia 911 Communications Board of Directors against incumbent Rob Anderson.

Miller first filed a tort claim against the district on May 8, alleging Watson and the 911 communications district acted in a discriminatory or retaliatory way following termination of Miller's work agreement with the district. At the time

he was represented by Portland-based attorney Kyle Busse.

The second tort claim was filed by William Gary, a Portland-based attorney with the Harrang Long Gary Rudnick law firm. Gary said the second notice was filed because events continued to unfold in the aftermath of Miller's termination that caused damage to

Miller's reputation, work and business, and his status with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

Miller owns a Seattle-based company called Miller Mendel which specializes in developing software to conduct pre-employment background checks for law enforcement agencies.

Gary said he and his client are hoping they will be able to settle outside of the courtroom.

Interim Executive Director Brian Burright declined to provide further comment on the tort claim notice, but said the he and the board of directors were aware of it.

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