All photos by Ronnie Abbott
*****Article was updated to include the final order from the Court. See the bottom of this post*****
The verdict is in regarding the lawsuit filed against Gunstock Area Commission (GAC) Chair Doug Lambert by former Commissioner Dr. David Strang in which he sought reinstatement to his position.
In what was described as a first for her tenure, Belknap County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Leonard issued a ruling from the bench. Describing the suit as “fatally flawed,” she dismissed it “without prejudice.”
It came down to the simple fact that Strang, perhaps in haste and egged on by his allies, sued the wrong party. Despite arguments by Strang’s attorney Richard Lehmmann to the contrary, if there was any validity or merit to Strang’s position of having NOT resigned from the GAC, the rightful target of his lawsuit should have been the Belknap County Delegation, and not Lambert or the GAC. Despite all of the myriad motions submitted back and forth from the Plaintiff and Defendant to the Court, it all came down to Lambert’s original request to dismiss in response to Strang’s midnight filing, which included this:
The Plaintiff’s argument is wrongfully directed at the Defendant in his role as a Gunstock Area Commissioner rather than with the Belknap County Delegation and the question of its actions at the August 1, 2022 meeting.Lambert Motion to Dismiss, filed August 15, 2022
In Court today, the attorney that was hired to represent Lambert, and then the GAC, Timothy Tappley, successfully supported the initial claim in driving home the fact that it was the County Delegation, and it alone, that has the total authority to appoint and remove Commissioners. The law is very clear on this point. Judge Leonard obviously agreed prior to her ruling, asking why, through all the intervening time, the Plaintiff never sought to add the Delegation to the suit, despite calling a member of that body as a witness. That is a good question, but we will never know the answer. We can only be left to speculate. Could Strang and his counsel, along with his supportive allies, been simply blinded by their ego? Were they so focused on the one point of whether his resignation was valid or not that they failed to consider other avenues and approaches? When asked by other media persons present for a comment, the answer was, “No comment.” That’s probably the best response given by that team in this whole sorry mess.
In a statement to the Bastion, the Defendant, GAC Chair Lambert noted that he was pleased with the outcome, but not surprised.
“I felt that my position from the outset that he was barking up the wrong tree was the correct one. He should have directed his disagreement to the proper body, the Delegation. For now, it is over. I am looking ahead to being able to continue the great work the present GAC has been doing in concert with the management team at Gunstock as we head into what we predict to be a successful winter season.”Doug Lambert, Statement to The Bastion
Several onlookers attended the hearing including fellow Gunstock Commissioner Jade Wood, Delegation Vice-Chair Tim Lang, County Administrator Debra Shackett, and Gunstock senior management including GM/President Tom Day, CFO Cathy White, and Director of Resort Services Robin Rowe.
The original Strang filing can be viewed here:
The original Lambert Motion to Dismiss can be seen here:
*****The final ruling from Judge Leonard is here:
Photos for The Bastion by Ronnie Abbott
Ronnie Abbott is a local photographer and founder of FYP Media – facebook.com/fypmedianh
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