Taxpayer dollars mounting as state pays legal settlements - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Taxpayer dollars mounting as state pays legal settlements

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The state is paying out $2.5 million dollars in legal settlements, the largest going to a man who suffered a severe brain injury in a Maui traffic accident.

The state agreed to pay $700,000 to that man, Doran Shaya, after an expert concluded that the crash was due to overgrown brush on state land.

Key lawmakers say they often feel they have no choice but to accept these settlements.

"There are a lot of cases that are surprising when they go to trial the juries and verdicts seem unreasonable. But that's the process," said state Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Another settlement came from the tragic case of a 15-year-old mentally disabled boy who wound up in a sexual relationship with his therapist.

Overall, the state has agreed to settle 23 legal claims, including:

-- the $700,000 for the Maui Highway accident;

-- $421,000 to a man whose big state tax refund was sent to the wrong address;

-- $221,000 for the disabled boy's family;

-- and, $180,000 for the mistreatment of former wards at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

The settlements total $2.5 million.

"We are concerned very much with the budget. The administrative budget is in deficit so we need to insure what we fund is sustainable," Ige said.

In all, taxpayers will pay off in at least 23 cases this year. A legislative conference committee will meet tomorrow to approve funding for the settlements.

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