Nearly $1 mil paid in Abbatiello case

After nearly three years, checks have been cut in what has to date been the county’s most expensive whistleblower lawsuit settlement award.

Dan Hempey, attorney for Kaua‘i police officer Darla Abbatiello, who was awarded $980,000 in the suit, finally spoke out about the case — albeit briefly — yesterday.

“My client is very brave,” Hempey said. “Through all this she continued working, helping out her son through college and her daughter on the island.”

County Council approved the settlement Oct. 17 in executive session. The case was scheduled for a settlement conference yesterday in Honolulu to ensure all parties had been paid, and, according to an electronic records search, the case was dismissed.

Abbatiello, who was working in the vice narcotics section of the Kaua‘i Police Department in 2003, filed the suit after she was transferred out of her section after having to file a complaint about another member of the police department harassing her. With that transfer came a pay cut, resulting in what her attorneys said was a violation of her civil rights and other protections afforded under the Whistleblower’s Protection Act.

Now that the suit is over, Hempey said Abbatiello is particularly grateful for the support she received from the community throughout the case, adding, “I would say that it wasn’t easy. Whistleblower suits are often emotionally taxing.”

Hempey could not comment on how much of the settlement amount went to cover court costs and legal fees.

Though a portion of the settlement amount is covered by insurance rather than coming directly from county coffers, County Attorney Matthew Pyun was unavailable for comment and therefore an exact figure was not available at press time


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