State’s Attorney’s $75,000 Settlement Runs into Rough Waters

George Hoffman

George Hoffman

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.


State’s Attorney’s $75,000 Settlement Runs into Rough Waters — 4 Comments

  1. They must have inadvertently omitted the court order that states:

    For the following reasons, pursuant to Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 54.2,
    defendant is ordered within 28 days to pay $1,715.34, payable to the Clerk of Court.
    Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 54.2 provides the following regarding assessment
    of juror costs:
    If for any reason attributable to counsel or parties, including a settlement or
    change of plea, the court is unable to commence a jury trial as scheduled where a
    panel of prospective jurors has reported to the courthouse for the voir dire, the
    court may assess against counsel or parties responsible all or part of the cost of
    the panel. Any monies collected as a result of said assessment shall be paid to the
    clerk who shall promptly remit them to the Treasurer of the United States.
    This case was settled the morning of trial and forty-two jurors were summoned
    and appeared for voir dire and trial. The total cost of the $40 per person compensation
    and mileage to the court was $3430.68. Defendant is responsible for settlement on the
    day of trial as he had previously informed the court of his unwillingness to offer terms of
    settlement. As such, in the court’s discretion, it assesses defendant one half the cost of
    the juror expense, which is $1,715.34. This assessment shall be paid within 28 days to
    the Clerk of Court, who shall promptly remit the assessment to the Treasurer of the
    United States.”

  2. So few details are known by those outside the case, that it is hard to assess. If the SA thought the case a winner, they would not want to settle. Mr Bianchi does not have a record of going easy on those who cross him (ask his special prosecutors).

    I wonder how much the county board knows of the details of the case. I wish the public knew more.

    $75,000 sounds like a lot, but it’s not an amount that will encourage litigation. Whether the attorney’s fee is 1/3 or not, the hours they spent must far outweigh their payoff. These lawyers would not get to the eve of a federal trial unprepared.

    The whole episode that began with Ms Dalby (and those facts were never charged or aired, beyond the Herald publishing the menu and letters she allegedly typed) and the fiesta italiana continues to rattle around.

  3. Are some Board members against the settlement because it is not a union suing?

    They sure caved to Local 150 quickly!

    Which committee members voted against this but voted for the 150 settlement?

  4. Under-statement of the year: “>>>… [but] juries are unpredictable.”

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