By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
HILO, Hawaii Big Island judge Riki May Amano has filed a final judgment awarding more than $4 million in damages to 19 retired and current Big Island police officers who filed a lawsuit over rigged promotions.
The action clears the way for the defendants in the lawsuit retired Police Chief Wayne Carvalho, retired Deputy Chief Francis De Morales and Hawaii County to pursue an appeal.
The judgment was filed Friday, 13 months after a jury verdict in the case. Amano has never explained why it took so long to finalize the judgment.
"Finally, one chapter is finally done," said lead plaintiff William Silva, a retired lieutenant.
In December 1999, a jury awarded $4.6 million to the plaintiffs, who said they were denied promotions because interviews were fixed by De Morales in favor of candidates preferred by former Chief Guy Paul, who was not named as a defendant.
Amanos final judgment reduced the amount to $4.12 million, including $1.56 million in punitive damages against Carvalho and De Morales for "civil racketeering" and "commercial bribery."
It is not clear whether the county is responsible for the punitive damages. Former county attorney Ted Hong earlier said the two officials would be covered by the county, which is providing their lawyers for the appeal.
New Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida was not available for comment yesterday.
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