Last week three Escambia County Commissioners received paperwork that they were being personally sued by Forrest Gibbs for tortuous interference resulting in his immediate termination as the manager of the Escambia County Equestrian Center.
Just days before taking the job, word came about that Escambia County Commissioner Wilson Robertson (R-District 1) allegedly had a role in recommending Gibbs for the position while at the same time talking with county staff to increase the salary over what the advertised salary for the position originally had stated.
During numerous public discussions as well as thorough research in our local daily newspaper, Robertson then recommended at the Board Agenda Review meeting that in the evening meeting he would bring up the need to terminate the position and begin the rehiring advertisement and search immediately.
However, Robertson is not being sued for tortuous interference as Marie Young (D-District 3), Kevin White (R-District 5) and Grover Robinson (R-District 4) begin a new chapter in this very bizarre situation.
“I think this is totally politically motivated and I really have no idea why in the world I am being sued here. Gibbs is an at will employee of the county and we had no control whatsoever over his employment.” Robinson emphatically states. “I mean we are county commissioners and we were only having a discussion with no cause of action and we are being sued. This can really open the door for repeat circumstances and this is just not good for the county.”
When asked who was going to be picking up the legal fees of the county commissioners being sued Deputy County Attorney Charles Peppler states that is something that is immediately being looked into. “We are currently looking to see if the county attorney and staff will defend the county commissioners or if they have to go and retain private counsel.”
If they have to retain private counsel Peppler says the county commissioners do have the right to ask for reimbursement of legal fees from the county.
Asked what they would recommend if the county attorney’s office would be allowed to take the case Peppler stated, “We would ask for an immediate dismissal as we truly do not think that there is a case at all here.”
Finally, when asked why Gibbs would bring this lawsuit while he is currently a finalist for the new hiring of the same position Robinson states, “I think it is awfully strange that he is suing while he is a finalist. But in the end, we do not handle that area, his hiring or firing is handled by the county administrator’s office.”
During this story Young, White, and Gibbs we not available for comment.
Please stay tuned to PensacolaVoice.com for more on this story.