Hawaii State Lawmakers to Pay $10.7M

May 8, 2006

State lawmakers in Hawaii have agreed to pay $10.7 million to reconcile about 40 lawsuits and claims against the state, more than triple the amount paid out last year.

The proposed payments now goes to Gov. Linda Lingle for her consideration.

Among the settlements are:

— $125,000 to settle a claim by a 15-year-old Aiea High School student who was hospitalized with chemical burns to his esophagus after accidentally consuming drain opener during a food service class.

— $95,000 to a woman who was sexually assaulted by Maui Community Correctional Center Warden Albert Murashige while the woman was an inmate. Murashige pleaded no contest to charges in the case, and was sentenced to a year in jail.

— $1.7 million for a judgment in favor of a worker who was severely injured in 1995 on a state Department of Transportation road project.

— $36,000 to a former inmate who remained locked up for 31 days beyond the date he was supposed to have been released in 2003.

— $2.3 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by public housing tenants on the Big Island who alleged they were charged more rent than is allowed under federal regulations.

— $2 million to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of Reubyne Buentipo Jr., a Kailua boy who was left with brain damage and in a vegetative state after being beaten by his mother in 1997. The suit alleged state caseworkers returned the then-4-year-old child to the mother despite earlier injuries that left the boy hospitalized.

The state usually does not admit liability in the settlements, but makes the payments to resolve the lawsuits.

State lawmakers approved $2.45 million in settlements last year.

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