BY LINDA BENTLEY | NOVEMBER 20, 2013
Discovery underway in Abujbarah v. town of Cave Creek
Did they ever read, review or consider any evaluation of the performance of Abujbarah prior to casting their vote to remove him?
CAVE CREEK – Last week, Attorney Dan Bonnett, on behalf of his client, former Town Manager Usama Abujbarah, issued requests for admissions, production of documents, electronically stored information (ESI), answers to interrogatories and other data to Mayor Vincent Francia, Vice Mayor Adam Trenk and councilmen Mike Durkin, Charles Spitzer and Reg Monachino.
The requests begin the discovery process in Abujbarah’s complaint against the town for what he alleges was an improper termination and violation of the state’s open meeting law.
While Bonnett raised objections to the process initiated by Trenk during the June council meeting, council proceeded to vote on Trenk’s motion, which was prepared in advance but not included in the council packet.
Additionally, several of the items Trenk rolled into his motion terminating Abujbarah were not advertised or noticed as part of the agenda.
Despite Trenk insisting in an e-mail that Abujbarah wouldn’t sue the town and give up the “golden parachute” packed for him by a previous council that is exactly what occurred.
Forfeiting several months of pay due to the filing of his complaint, Abujbarah has persisted while enduring family hardships.
Recently Abujbarah’s wife was rushed to the emergency room on two separate occasions for a life-threatening condition.
Last week, while being deposed by the town’s attorneys, Abujbarah learned his daughter Kinda, who uses a power wheel chair for mobility, was involved in an accident that totaled the van in which she was riding.
Kinda is defending her master’s thesis this Thursday, Nov 21.
In spite of these hardships, Abujbarah said, “We are a resilient family and are looking forward to a big celebration for Kinda’s graduation.
“We continue to enjoy and appreciate the support of our community, friends and neighbors.”
The request for admissions to the mayor asks if he had at least one communication with Monachino between May 21 and June 10, 2013 and with Trenk between May 21 and June 9, outside of a town council open meeting or executive session, during which both stated they had no intention of voting to remove Abujbarah as town manager.
It also asks Francia to admit or deny that between May 21 and June 9, he had at least one communication with Abujbarah, outside of a town council open meeting or executive session, during which he stated Monachino and Trenk told him they had no present intention of voting to remove him as town manager.
The interrogatories to council members ask them to identify each and every communication whether, oral, written or electronically transmitted between or among any named-defendant(s) on or after Dec. 1, 2012 to June 10, 2013 mentioning, concerning or relating to (whether by name or reference) Abujbarah, while requesting the same pertaining to Interim Town Manager Rodney Glassman between Dec, 1, 2012 through June 25, 2013.
The interrogatories ask for cell phone numbers and service providers, e-mail addresses, SMS or text message accounts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Internet access, social networking or media accounts, used or closed by the defendants at any time on or after Dec. 1, 2012 to present.
It also asks them to identify any and all calendars, diaries, day-timers, logs or other documents used to schedule, record or memorialize location or meetings (whether scheduled or attended) at any time during the period between March 29, 2013 to date.
Defendants are asked to identify every occasion where each met with or were in the presence of any named-defendant between March 29, 2013 and June 10, 2013, other than during a council meeting or executive session.
They were also asked to identify each and every occasion they met with or were in the presence of Glassman between Dec. 1, 2012 and June 12, 2013, outside of council meetings, and identify each of the defendants who may have also been present.
It asks if they ever introduced Glassman to any person, group or organization as the next or soon-to-be town manager of the Town of Cave Creek prior to June 24, 2013 and, if so, to identify the person, group or organization as well as the date, time and location where such introductions were made.
The interrogatory asks if they ever read, reviewed or considered any document containing any evaluation of the performance of Abujbarah as town manager prior to casting their vote to remove him on June 10 and if they intend to assert as a defense that they were acting on the advice of legal counsel with regard to any act or omission they were alleged to have committed.
If so, Bonnett asks them to identify each attorney that provided the legal advice, the date(s) such advice was provided and the advice they relied or acted upon.
If the defendants elect to withhold documents or ESI with regard to the request for production, the interrogatory asks for a sufficient description of each document or ESI so plaintiff can assess if a basis exists to challenge any claim or other basis for withholding production.
Councilmen are also asked to identify each and every communication they had with both Abujbarah and Glassman between May 21 and June 12, 2013, other than during duly noticed meetings of the town council and with any named-defendant that occurred between May 28 and June 12.
Meanwhile, an executive session was held on Monday prior to the regular open council meeting to discuss the lawsuit in which Abujbarah is asking for $3 million in damages.