Legal fees mount in Kane County lawsuit

 
 
Updated 6/5/2011 7:54 AM

A check of filings in the ongoing lawsuit between Kane County Circuit Court Clerk Deb Seyller and the county board shows legal fees paid to date only tell half the story of the eventual costs to taxpayers.

When asked last week, the county's finance department produced information showing nearly $125,000 in legal fees and expenses have already been paid to attorneys on both sides of the lawsuit. But case filings show Chief Judge F. Keith Brown has already approved a set of bills that places the costs of the lawsuit much closer to the amount that started the fight in the first place.

 

The lawsuit filed by Seyller goes back to last year's budget. Seyller repeatedly asked the board for $560,000 in additional funds so she could meet payroll and run her office at what she deemed to be a minimum level to fulfill mandates. The board rejected Seyller's requests because it didn't believe Seyller adequately explained why she hired additional staff and filled vacant positions without board permission.

That fight eventually went to court. Both parties are now trying to mediate their differences with Brown as a guide. But that process also involves lawyers. Court filings show Brown approved a bill of $266,945 to county attorneys Ungaretti & Harris, LLP, for services from September 2010 to January 2011. That adds to the $109,950 county officials said they've paid out to Seyller's attorneys last week for a total of $376,895 of taxpayer dollars committed so far to the ongoing lawsuit.

The reason for the discrepancy in the bills approved versus what the county said it's paid out is unclear. It may reflect, however, that the county simply hasn't yet paid what it owes to Ungaretti & Harris. Indeed, the amount paid to Seyller's attorneys, Mickey, Wilson, Weiler, Renzi & Andersson, P.C., is more than the $86,935 Brown approved for representation through January 2011, but several months of legal wrangling has occurred since then.

Both sides are under a gag order on the case and could not comment. The lawsuit was back in court last week with no resolution. Both sides return to court Wednesday, June 29.