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House committee approves $7.7 million to settle lawsuits

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The state House Judiciary Committee approved a $7.7 million bill that sets aside money to settle claims against the state with the addition of more than $5.6 million in recent settlements.

The added claims include more than $5.4 million awarded to the families of two women hikers who died on Kauai in 2006. The rest of the $15.4 million settlement of the two families’ lawsuits will be paid by the state’s excess insurance carrier Chartis Insurance.

Another claim is a $100,000 settlement awarded to Mitch Kahle, who vocally protested and was removed from state Senate chambers in 2010, and his friend who recorded the incident.

Members of the Judiciary Committee did not dispute the nature of the claims but did discuss the issue of warning signs on trails.

The Attorney General’s Office noted in its testimony that more needs to be done at the legislative level to limit the state’s liability for incidents that occur on trails, including posting more warning signs.

The bill now appropriates funds for more than $7.7 million in claims made against the state, its officers or its employees, including the recent settlements.

The Senate bill will now move on to be heard by the House Finance Committee.


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