Settlement reached, payment delayed

LIHUE — Patricia and Michael Kocher Sr. still haven’t been paid the $1 million promised to them by the County of Kauai to settle a lawsuit they filed over the death of their son, who was killed four years ago by a speeding police cruiser.

The Kocher family agreed to drop their civil suit against the county and the Kauai Police Department in exchange for the million-dollar settlement in October. Six months later, they are running low on money and patience.

Patricia Kocher said she and her husband were told by attorneys that they would be sent a settlement check by November, but as the months passed, the date kept getting pushed back.

“Six deadlines have come and gone,” she said. “As of today, we have received no money.”

Michael Kocher Jr. died in January 2015, when KPD officer Irvin Magayanes inadvertently ran him over while responding to the scene of a pedestrian traffic accident at nearly 75 miles an hour.

The injured pedestrian turned out to be Kocher, who lay in the highway talking to bystanders whose cars lined the road in Hanapepe, lighting the scene with their headlights as Magayanes approached. In an ironic twist of fate, Magayanes hit the very person he was dispatched to help.

The Kochers’ exasperation and profound sadness is compounded by a practical financial concern.

Shortly after the settlement was reached, Patricia Kocher said the family’s dog was run over by a car and critically injured. Hoping to save the animal, the Kochers sprung for emergency surgery. It was a costly procedure, but, based on the promises of attorneys on both sides, the Kochers thought they would soon be able to afford it.

The dog died on the operating table, the $2,700 vet bill was passed on to a collection agency and the Kochers are still waiting to get paid.

“They think we got the money, and we’re just hiding out. It’s a problem,” Patricia Kocher said, describing her mounting frustration with the continued prospect of having to duck bill collectors.

The delay has come in the form of repeated hangups in accounting, according to Aaron Creps, an attorney with Leavitt Yamane &Soldner, the Honolulu law firm representing the Kochers.

Creps said the process was first pushed back pending a determination regarding what portion of the million dollars would be covered by the county’s insurance. That figure was decided upon months ago. A county spokesperson in December confirmed that the county was required to pay $173,298, with insurance covering the remainder.

At a settlement hearing in court last week, an attorney representing the county said the county’s check had already been sent to the Leavitt Yamane &Soldner office.

The remaining amount had to go through the insurance company’s accounting process, which Creps said was further delayed by a stipulation in the settlement requiring the county to erect a memorial plaque in a park near the Kocher family’s home, honoring the memory of their son.

That issue was resolved over a week ago. The insurance company sent the check to the Kocher’s lawyers via a courier service on April 9. Creps said his law firm received the payment last Friday, but explained that the Kocher’s payment cannot be processed until the check clears 12 days later on April 23.

When asked why the firm didn’t send the family the county’s portion of the settlement when it was first received, Creps said he has heard no such request from the family and was not aware the Kochers were facing financial difficulty.

The Kochers, meanwhile, remain at a loss.

Michael Kocher Sr. is alternatively angry and baffled at the delays.

He stormed out of the courtroom during last week’s settlement hearing, which he took off work to attend, after learning he would have to wait at least another week for the check to arrive and might possibly have to go to court yet again if the issue couldn’t be resolved.

“And the judge wouldn’t even take a question,” he said. “Why we gotta wait this long for all of this crap?”

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Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

3 Comments
  1. Larry April 19, 2019 3:43 am Reply

    Just pay the people…..stop playing games…..


  2. randy kansas April 19, 2019 6:33 am Reply

    read and remember the name of the law firm the family hired…..you see how they are being treated;

    sounds like the attorneys got paid their cut, but not the family…..

    your settlement should have provisions, whereby the attorneys get paid, when or even after you get paid…

    rk


  3. Rev Dr. Malama April 19, 2019 9:43 am Reply

    This is a tragic story that no amount of money can truly ever make up for the loss of a child and yet the court seems to think that it would be a bad idea to assist in making closure at the most opportune time? Why?
    Settlements are not rewarding nor worth pursuing unless something is going to change in a broader sense….
    In this case, holding the offending officer accountable is precedent here and hopefully the family can be proud of their determination and hard won settlement with regard to making roads safer on Kauai.
    Mahalo


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