- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - Two lawsuits filed by Kauai County employees cost taxpayers about $1 million in legal fees and settlements.

Defending the county in the two cases cost more than $500,000, and settlements for both totaled $425,000, Lihue’s Garden Island (http://ow.ly/K1vYW) newspaper reported Friday.

County Auditor Ernesto Pasion accepted a $300,000 settlement for his lawsuit alleging retaliation by the mayor and county council for his audit on fuel costs.

Kauai Department of Water Project Manager Dustin Moises agreed to a $125,000 settlement for his lawsuit alleging he was discriminated against for being too young.

County Council Chair Mel Rapozo said he’s not happy with the cost of defending the Pasion case, which Rapozo said was especially complex. The county hired a Honolulu firm to handle the case for $550,573.

County attorney staff worked on the Moises case, spending $14,257 in compensated time and travel.

The Office of the County Attorney evaluates lawsuits and makes an initial determination of whether special counsel should be hired because of the facts or circumstances.

“In regards to the Pasion case, the office, at that time, decided that special counsel was necessary and the council voted to so authorize,” First Deputy County Attorney Stephen Hall said.

Pasion’s case would have been more expensive if it went to trial instead of being settled, Rapozo said.

“Had we gone to trial, I think special counsel estimated that it would have been well over the million dollar mark,” he said. “At some point, you’ve got to cut your losses and do what’s best for the community, and that’s what was done.”

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Information from: The Garden Island, http://thegardenisland.com/

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