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Nassau Legislature OKs $15M settlement in lost leg case

The Nassau County Legislature has approved a $15.3-million settlement with a former Long Beach construction worker who lost his leg after a Nassau County police officer trying to arrest him hit him with his unmarked vehicle.

Democrats on the legislature had criticized the administration of new Republican County Executive Edward Mangano for firing the county attorney handling the case and hiring an outside lawyer just a month before the trial date.

A jury awarded $19.3 million to Thomas Hartmann in February - one of the largest verdicts against the county in recent memory. New County Attorney John Ciampoli, who had fired the county attorney and retained Brookhaven lawyer Gregg Swenson as special counsel, negotiated a $15.3-million settlement.

"I don't think the handling of this case was in the best interests of the Nassau County taxpayer, and bonding it made it worse," Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) said. Denenberg cast the lone dissenting vote Monday evening.

The Democratic minority leader, Legis. Diane Yatauro of Glen Cove, said the failure to settle the case now could cost the county even more if it lost an appeal because interest accrues on the verdict.

"No one in our caucus was pleased with the outcome or how it was handled, but the prevailing sentiment was to end this matter without exposing the county further," Yatauro said.

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