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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Legal claims cost state $343K

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

The state paid out $343,322 in fiscal year 2009 to settle a variety of claims, ranging from prison inmates kept beyond their sentences to missing dentures.

By far most of the 311 claims and lawsuits settled for $10,000 or less in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, involved damage caused by potholes and from debris flung by state lawnmowers.

Other common claims involved slip-and-fall accidents and damage caused by falling limbs from trees, according to a January report by the state Department of Accounting and General Services.

Among the more unusual claims were a total of $8,700 paid to two inmates who were inadvertently kept in prison beyond their release dates.

Another $10,000 was paid to an inmate who was injured by an employee at the Waiawa Correctional Facility.

The state also paid $8,000 following the death of an inmate who allegedly died because of inadequate care at an unspecified prison.

Another $2,297 was paid to a child who was injured while blindfolded in a class game at He'eia Elementary School. The state also paid claims for a hearing aid that was lost at Maui Memorial Medical Center and damage to a set of dentures at Kula Hospital.

The amount paid out by the state in fiscal 2009 was down from the $374,933 paid on claims and lawsuits by the state during the prior fiscal year.