When Assistant State’s Attorney George Hoffman came before the McHenry County Finance and Audit Committee Thursday morning for permission to settle the suit filed by former Assistant State’s Attorney Kirk Chrzanowski for $75,000, he made a cost-benefit argument.
He estimated that losing the suit would result in the County’s having to pay $160,000 in attorney’s fees to Rebecca Lee, plus $200,000 in damages, if Chrzanowski won the trial.
Talking about the general nature of litigation, he said,
“You don’t know what is going to happen. If they lose, they would get nothing. If we lost, we could end up paying a lot more.”
“If I didn’t think we had a strong case, we wouldn’t be here,[but] juries are unpredictable.”
He said there had been $20,000 expenses.
Mary McCann expressed displeasure at the settlement.
“I don’t want to get into the habit of settling cases,” Yvonne Barnes said.
Finance Committee Chairman Mike Skala added, “After listening to the Federal tapes, I think settling for $75,000 is probably getting off easy.
“I think we would have gotten screwed.
“My frustration is that we got into this position in the first place.
“I think we got off easy.”
“Absolutely,” McCann interjected.
The roll call was a tie.
Voting in favor of settling were
- Mike Skala
- Larry Smith
- Chuck Wheeler
Voting against were
- Yvonne Barnes
- Jim Heisler
- Mary McCann
The matter now moves to the Law and Justice Committee.
If approved, the county’s insurance policy will be useless, because it only kicks in when expenses get over $250,000.
That is because of the long and expensive wrongful termination cases filed while Sheriff Keith Nygren was in office.
The money will come from the Tort Liability Fund, if the County Board approves it.
If not, the trial will take place.