Settlements to cost
state $6.4 million

The state attorney general is
seeking approval for the funds
via legislation

The state has agreed to pay $1.175 million to the family of a teenager who broke his neck diving into the Waimanalo reservoir and $1.2 million to criminal defendants who remained in state custody after they were acquitted.

The money is part of $6.4 million in claims, lawsuit settlements and judgments contained in legislation (SB 2834) that the state Attorney General is asking state lawmakers to approve.

Also included in the bill is the $2 million the state agreed to pay as its share of a settlement with the families of people who were killed or injured in the 1999 Mother's Day rockslide at Sacred Falls State Park.

In September 2000, Michael Martin, then 16, broke his neck at Waimanalo Reservoir. Martin became a quadriplegic as a result of his injury, said Michael Livingston, Martin's lawyer.

Martin's family sued the state and the companies who manufactured the reservoir's lining. The state did not take adequate measures to keep people out of the reservoir and the lining made it attractive to swimmers, Livingston said.

The state agreed to settle the case rather than go to trial. The manufacturers of the lining also agreed to a financial settlement, Livingston said.

The $1.2 million settlement is the result of a federal class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in December 2001 on behalf of state prisoners who were returned to prison after they were acquitted and ordered released by the courts.

Earlier that year, the County of Los Angeles settled a similar lawsuit for $27 million.

The state said it returned acquitted defendants to prison for out-processing and released them when it received the proper paperwork.

The ACLU said acquitted defendants were handcuffed and kept in holding cells for hours before being returned to Oahu Community Correctional Center, where they were subjected to cavity searches and harassed by guards before being released.

In January 2002, Circuit Judge Gail Nakatani ordered that criminal defendants acquitted of all charges against them should be released immediately from court.


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