The Algonquin Township Board voted Saturday to have its attorney negotiate a global settlement in the cases stemming from a 2017 dispute over public records.
The township has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees since 2017 when Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser sought a court order to restrain Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik, his predecessor Robert Miller and former township employee Anna May Miller from destroying any Algonquin Township or Algonquin Township Highway Department records, according to court documents.
The case spurred a flurry of countersuits, and township trustees want to put a stop to the arguments – and costly lawyers fees – once and for all.
The board agreed to allow its attorney, John Nelson, to begin negotiations toward a global settlement with the parties on the case. The board said it would be willing to pay no more than $65,000 to the Algonquin Township road district to settle the case, trustee Rachael Lawrence said.
“The main goal is to stem the litigation costs that are falling on backs of the taxpayers for long protracted and frankly unnecessary litigation,” she said.
The possibility of a global settlement was brought up by the attorneys involved in the cases, she said.
The board voted to cap the cost of a potential settlement at $65,000 because that amount could satisfy the claims in the case, based on information from the attorneys involved, she said.
But the matters are far from settled.
“This isn’t an official agreement,” she said. “It’s not an agreement to pay. That isn’t happening until a written agreement is formed, agreed upon and entered into court. This is the starting point.”
The township is paying Nelson $250 an hour for his services.
Trustee Dan Shea said he simply wanted the cases settled to avoid paying more legal fees. The board wants the cases settled with prejudice so the matters can’t be brought back to court, he said.
“It’s a crying amount of money,” he said. “There are lawsuits on top of lawsuits.”