An Oregon Lottery Whistleblower Case Is Set for Trial Monday in Salem

It's relatively rare for an employment claim against the state not to be settled or dismissed.

(Maya Setton)

Updated Jan 4: After a three-day trial, the state prevailed as the jury voted 9-3 against Tran.

Trinh C. Tran, a former contracts and procurement manager for the Oregon Lottery, will have his day in court beginning Monday.

Last year, Tran filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the lottery, claiming that Barry Pack, the director of the agency, retaliated against him in 2016.

The issue began, according to Tran's law suit, under Pack's predecessor, former lottery director Jack Roberts. After being contacted by a member of the Lottery Commission, Corvallis lawyer Elizabeth Carle, Tran provided information to Carle about Roberts' management style and also voluntarily shared information with members of Gov. Kate Brown's staff.

Shortly afterwards, in April 2016, Brown fired Roberts.

Related: Gov. Kate Brown Removes Jack Roberts As Director of the Oregon Lottery

But after Pack, who had served as Brown's deputy from 2009 to 2013 when she was secretary of state, took over for Roberts, Tran's lawsuit says, Tran was placed under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice. He says that investigation was unwarranted and tainted him within his agency.

"The allegations in the Lottery's investigation notice, both anonymous and false, destroyed morale within the procurement department, eroded the relationship of trust plaintiff had been developing with his employees following the turmoil at the top level of leadership at the Lottery, and ultimately degraded the leadership role that plaintiff had worked hard to obtain," the lawsuit says.

The investigation of Tran ultimately found "no evidence of inappropriate conduct or violations of policy" by Tran.

But Tran says lottery management placed him on a work plan, reduced his responsibilities and ostracized him, ultimately driving him out of the agency.

"The Lottery's improperly motivated and unlawful retaliation against plaintiff and others created an atmosphere of intimidation that dissuades and prevents Lottery employees from making protected disclosures," Tran's lawsuit, filed by his attorney, Tim Volpert, says.

The state sought to have Tran's lawsuit dismissed last year but the judge not only rejected that request, he has allowed Volpert to pursue a claim for punitive damages in the case.

The Oregon Department of Justice, which is defending against the lawsuit, does not comment on pending litigation.

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