Lawyer tab in now-settled Minn. Senate case: $390K

Published 3:58 pm Saturday, December 7, 2013

ST. PAUL  — A now-settled lawsuit filed by a fired staffer cost the Minnesota Senate $396,000 in legal defense fees on top of a severance award, a new tally based on a billing document made public Friday shows.

The latest and possibly last invoice came to $78,000 for activity in the final frenzied months of the case. Its release coincided with a court order this week formally ending ex-senior GOP aide Michael Brodkorb’s federal lawsuit claiming he was wrongly terminated after his affair with a lawmaker.

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will vote Monday on whether to approve the payment to Minneapolis-based law firm Larkin Hoffman as it has with the roughly $320,000 paid previously.

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Brodkorb was fired in late 2011 following disclosure of his affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, who gave up her leadership position but served out her term.

Brodkorb argued that he shouldn’t have lost his job and lodged an array of claims. The sides settled in late September, with the Senate agreeing to pay Brodkorb $30,000 in severance without conceding any wrongdoing on the institution’s part.

Senate officials resisted pressure to settle sooner even as legal bills mounted because they said it would set a bad precedent.

As part of the agreement, both sides handled their own legal costs in the case. According to invoices, Larkin Hoffman put about 1,360 billable hours into the case at rates of up to $330 per hour.

Brodkorb said Friday he wouldn’t reveal what he paid his attorneys. The Senate’s billing was considered public because it involved taxpayer money.