Saturday, May 22, 1999

Suit over late child-support
payments now class action

By Craig Gima


Circuit Judge Gail Nakatani has granted class-action status to a lawsuit filed against the state Child Support Enforcement Agency over late child-support payments.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys for Ann Kemp, a woman who said it took the state two months to process her check rather than the two days required by state law.

The class-action status means Kemp's attorneys can act on behalf of other people who did not receive timely child-support payments. The lawsuit seeks the interest collected on child-support payments kept beyond two days.

"Now we can move on with discovery to find out what's happened to that money and how much of it there is," said Francis O'Brien, one of Kemp's attorneys.

In an earlier interview, child-support agency administrator Michael Meaney said the state does not make money off the interest on its bank accounts. He said the interest earned offsets bank charges and fees the federal government charges to intercept the tax returns of delinquent parents.

Meaney said as problems with the agency's new Keiki computer system have been worked out, the percentage of checks going out on time has increased from 75 percent at the end of last year to 92 percent in March.

O'Brien said it will be several months or perhaps longer before the lawsuit can go to trial.

If there is a resolution, people who fall within the class will be notified, he said.

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