Are We Talking About the Same Trial?

November 20, 2010

Yesterday, the Bismarck Tribune finally ran a story about the verdict in the Long v North Dakota WSI trial.   The Jenny Michael article says, in part:
Long filed a lawsuit in September 2008 against the state of North Dakota, WSI and several officials involved in the agency, alleging he was terminated in violation of the state’s whistleblower protection law. The list of defendants eventually was whittled down to just the state and WSI.
Um... here is the list of the plaintiff, defendants, and their attorneys, as taken from court documents, and as posted on the courthouse bulletin board every day of the trial:
ATTY. FOR DEFENDANT BAKKE RANDALL BISMARCK ND
ATTY. FOR DEFENDANT ARMSTRONG MITCHELL D BISMARCK ND
ATTY. FOR PLAINTIFF TUNTLAND THOMAS MANDAN ND
DEFENDANT STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA
DEFENDANT WORKFORCE SAFETY AND INSURANCE
DEFENDANT BLUNT CHARLES
DEFENDANT HALVORSON JOHN
DEFENDANT WAHLIN TIM
DEFENDANT FORWARD ROB
DEFENDANT ANDERSON TAG
DEFENDANT INDVIK ROBERT
DEFENDANT GJOVIG MARK
PLAINTIFF LONG JAMES
EX-REL/A.K.A./F.K.A BLUNDT SANDY
Chad Nodland over at NorthDecoder.com tells me that this list of people were dismissed out of the case, but for some reason, the clerk has not removed their names.  (UPDATE: The Clerk of the Court just called and said ,"those individuals were dismissed out in January 2009 because they were acting in the scope of their employment."  So the Tribune was correct, and I regret the confusion.

Michael then writes: 
“The Risk Management Division and WSI are certainly satisfied with the jury verdict,” said Tag Anderson, director of the Risk Management Division, which deals with financial claims against the state.
It still is interesting to note that Tag Anderson was originally one of the defendants in the case.  And to note that WSI still has not responded to my request for a statement about the verdict.

Interesting, too, that reporter Michael dates Long's request for whistleblower protection as Friday, October 19, 2007.  That is actually the date that the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) executed a search warrant for WSI Communications Director Mark Armstrong's office, the same day Jim Long escorted BCI's Mike Quinn to conduct the search. (Long had, while answering questions to BCI on another matter, provided Quinn with Armstrong's diary, which referenced getting "the secret documents out." That is what triggered the search.)  Long filed his request for whistleblower protection the next day.  WSI's Sandy Blunt returned as CEO the following Monday, as his felony charges had been (temporarily) dropped; Blunt immediately created (he said recreated) a handwritten document of all the reasons he wanted Jim Long terminated.

Michael also writes,
Long, Kay Grinsteinner, the agency’s former internal auditor, Todd Flanagan, a former fraud investigator, Billi Peltz, former human resources director, and Jodi Bjornson, legal counsel for the agency, filed for whistleblower protection during the investigations at the agency.
Close, but not quite correct.  Bjornson filed a document that said she might want to file for whistleblower protection, but she didn't quite cross that line.    But when Michael writes this, she got it right:
Long, Grinsteinner, Flanagan and Peltz were fired from the agency, and Long, Grinsteinner and Flanagan sued for damages.
Grinsteinner and Flanagan settled their lawsuits for $10,000 each. Peltz did not file a lawsuit, and Bjornson still works at WSI.
I think the Tribune could provide a bit more clarity, don't you?  On Monday, please call the Bismarck Tribune and let them know you're paying attention. 

          Bismarck Tribune:  (701) 250-8247

If you value factual reporting, don't just sit there, get busy and complain!  (That's the only way we the people can demand the truth.) But wait until Monday for the regular staff and editors to be available.

More testimony still to input for your reading pleasure, check back next week.

PS  It is snowing today in Northern California, just in case you thought I went to the beach or something!

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