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Costs add up in ex-cop's wrongful termination lawsuit

 Lt. Henry, seen here in an interview with KTUU in 2012.
Lt. Henry, seen here in an interview with KTUU in 2012. (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 19, 2018 at 6:31 PM AKST
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Although the Municipality of Anchorage is fighting a court victory returned by a federal jury last month in a wrongful termination case, regardless of the outcome, the lawsuit is already costing the city millions.

As of Oct. 17, 2018, the city has paid $1.8 million to private attorneys hired to work on the case. That bill would not include time spent in court and on filings during the trial itself.

The jury awarded Lieutenant Anthony Henry $2.3 million in compensation, and his attorneys are seeking reimbursement for the $2.5 million they say they've spent over the course of four years on Henry's behalf.

That brings a potential total cost to the city of $6.6 million for a case the city chose to fight, in part because Henry sought a settlement of more than $3 million, according to Municipal Attorney Rebecca Windt-Pearson.

But Molly Brown, one of Henry's attorneys, tells KTUU that negotiations never made it to any formal demands or offers.

The time-consuming, complex legal proceedings unfolded over a period of years as Henry sought to restore his name and prove he was treated unfairly.

While the city has called Henry a litigious malcontent, in recent court filings, Henry has said the city made the process "needlessly difficult."

The city has asked the trial judge to reverse the jury's verdict, or, if the judge believes Henry proved his case, to at least reduce the financial award.

Any costs to the city that exceed the budget are likely to become the burden of taxpayers, according to Office of Management and Budget Director Lance Wilber.

For every $1 million the city might need to raise, property tax payers would be assessed a $1 tax on every $100,000 of taxable property value, he said.