One of the defendants in Bruce and Venese Hampton's lawsuit against Wallowa County has launched a countersuit.
Lloyd Trackwell Jr., a named defendant whose alleged role aiding Sheriff Fred Steen in what the Hamptons' complaint describes as a scheme to discredit, defame, coerce, extort, humiliate, stalk, and injure the Hamptons has entered counterclaims against the couple. Trackwell's countersuit, filed July 27 in U.S. District Court in Pendleton, also lists claims against numerous other individuals and entities, including, among others, the Hamptons' son, their Enterprise lawyers, a title company owner, an attorney who formerly represented Trackwell, and a Midwest bank that once engaged Trackwell's services to collect a debt the Hamptons were alleged to have owed.
The Hamptons filed suit March 15 against Steen, the sheriff's office, and the county in general, alleging that Steen, Trackwell and Wallowa County Commissioner Paul Castilleja conspired to repeatedly interfere in the couple's business relationships, ruining prospective real estate transactions. The suit also alleges defamation.
On May 29 the couple amended their suit, upping the damages total from approximately $10 million to around $12.5 million, and naming Trackwell as a defendant.
Defendants answered July 13, calling upon the court to dismiss all claims. Defendants argued many of the claims involved allegations that were too old, triggering the statute of limitations, and that in some of the claims the Hamptons appeared to be acting in other parties' behalf when those parties could be filing actions of their own. The July 13 answer also asserted absolute immunity for Sheriff Steen.
Trackwell's third-party action details 11 claims in all, alleging that some of the defendants Trackwell names engaged in a pattern of racketeering [activities] and actions involving the collection of unlawful debts. Activities alleged included moneylaundering, making verbal threats against Trackwell, interfering with Trackwell's employment, filing false and fraudulent lawsuits, attempting to have Trackwell prosecuted for criminal offenses without factual basis, disparaging Trackwell's character publicly, intercepting Trackwell's communications, breaching a court-approved confidentiality agreement, and fraudulently conveying assets of the Hamptons out of reach.
Two of Trackwell's claims target American Bank of Missouri, with which he says he had a written agreement to help the bank collect $192,000 the Hamptons were alleged to owe on a commercial promissory note. Trackwell alleges ABM breached the agreement by terminating him prematurely and reaching a settlement with the Hamptons that excluded Trackwell.
Trackwell also includes a claim for malpractice and breach of contract against an Oregon attorney who, according to Trackwell, was supposed to represent Trackwell's interests as well as ABM's in the case involving the Hamptons that ended in settlement.
Trackwell asks the court to dismiss all claims against him in the Hamptons' complaint. The July 27 filing also seeks monetary relief for multiple alleged damages, but in only one instance specifies an amount. That exception concerns one claim for breach of contract, where Trackwell requests $400,000.
Two family members of Chieftain Publisher Marissa Williams are mentioned in the countersuit, but neither person is listed as a defendant.
The Chieftain has posted a PDF file of Trackwell's counterclaim on the newspaper's website at wallowa.com.