Settlement with Stephens just one of many costing Spokane money

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on April 26, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 26 at 6:22 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A settlement with former interim Police Chief Scott Stephens is one of multiple in the last year. The City of Spokane settled several lawsuits in 2012. Some of them are more high profile than others, but they all add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The city paid $350,000 last fall to settle with Jeff Harvey, a detective who was fired and then hired again. He was charged with obstructing a Fish and Wildlife officer working on an investigation. He was found not guilty and given back his job.

Mayor Condon explained in a Thursday press conference the city budgets for expenses like this each year.

“We deal with many different personnel manners, so we work this into our risk assessment. Our risk analysis has to do with our financial picture,” he said.

Another large settlement came in September 2012. The city agreed to pay a man who sprained his ankle at a public golf course. Stan Peterson stepped through a sprinkler head and sued the city. The $215,000 package included $190,000 and free golf for the rest of his life.

In May, the city paid one of its largest settlements to date to the family of Otto Zehm. Zehm was tasered, tied up and beaten at the hands of Spokane police after he was falsely accused of stealing from a gas station. Zehm later died. The $1.6 million settlement included $720,000 from the city. The rest came from insurance money.

The mayor says Spokane has its own insurance for smaller cases, so the cost taxpayers pay for outside insurance does not increase.

“This will not at all have an effect on our coverage, over and above what we’re self-insured for,” Mayor Condon said.

The city’s total cost for these three cases alone totals almost $1.3 million.

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