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Kaul, finance committee may discuss lawsuit settlements

By TODD RICHMOND Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans who control the Legislature's finance committee plan to talk with Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul on Wednesday about settling a handful of lawsuits after negotiations between them broke down last week, although the two sides continue to squabble over confidentiality agreements.

A law Republicans passed during a lame-duck session in December requires Kaul to get the committee's permission before settling any lawsuit.

Kaul and the committee met Aug. 27 to discuss settling an unknown lawsuit but the meeting fell apart when Kaul refused to talk unless committee members signed non-disclosure agreements. Kaul told them such agreements are necessary because confidentiality is often a key condition of settlements.

Republicans hired attorney Andrew Phillips on Thursday to sign a confidentiality agreement on the committee's behalf to placate Kaul. The attorney general said then he was reviewing the agreement.

State Justice Department records show the agency is considering settling 16 lawsuits, including several with millions of dollars at stake.

The committee issued a notice Tuesday afternoon that it will meet Wednesday to discuss settling seven lawsuits. The cases all involve state liens on injury awards to repay Medicaid for treatment. The liens range from about $4,300 to $103,250.

But Kaul apparently still has questions about the confidentiality agreement.

The state Justice Department late Tuesday afternoon released an email that Legal Services Division Administrator Charlotte Gibson sent to Phillips and committee members on Friday. She raises a number of concerns about the agreement, pointing out that the Legislative Reference Bureau has concluded an agent can't bind individual committee members to confidentiality and asking how the confidentiality of privileged written information will be maintained.

She planned to meet Wednesday morning with Phillips to discuss the agreement before the committee convenes.

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