State settles in DHHS document shredding case

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The state of Maine will pay a total of $250,000 to settle a case in which two former employees of the Maine CDC claimed that supervisors retaliated against them because they refused to shred public documents related to a grant program.

The money will be divided up between the whistleblower, Sharon Leahy-Lind, her co-worker Katie Woodbury, and their attorney, Cynthia Dill, for legal fees. The lawsuit sought compensation, punitive damages, legal fees and a declaration that Leahy-Lind acted lawfully.

DHHS said in a statement that Dr. Sheila Pinette, Christine Zukas and Lisa Sockabasin maintain that they did nothing wrong and that there is no merit to the allegations made in this case. Pinette, Zukas and Sockabasin wanted the lawsuit to go to trial in order to clear their names, but agreed to resolve the matter in order to save taxpayer money that litigation would have required.

"All four people had to have their own lawyers plus the state, so we were paying for five lawyers and it could've been in the $500,000 to $600,000 range. My recommendation was in this particular case, there are some times when you should fight. But they convinced me that we could save money if we didn't fight, and I wish the lawyers would've got paid more money, because I think we were right," said Gov. Paul LePage.

He also said the settlement was not an admission of guilt.

WCSH6 piece posted on 2-18-15

WCSH6Cynthia Dill