Wednesday, January 10, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Swap meet contract suit settled for $295,000

By William Cole
Advertiser Courts Writer

Former Aloha Flea Market operator Edward Medeiros, who said in a federal lawsuit that his contract wasn’t renewed in 1999 because he supported Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle, is being paid $295,000 to settle the case.

The settlement resolves two state court suits: He accused the state of violating the open meetings act for the way his contract was terminated, and breach of contract.

Medeiros’ attorney, Carl Varady, said yesterday his client is glad to have the matter ended, but still stands by his accusations. "The state is not admitting liability, and Mr. Medeiros has not revised his opinion as to why the contract was terminated."

However, Varady said he hopes one outcome is the recognition that the state has to act in a manner consistent with the "rights of political association and free speech."

Senior Deputy Attorney General Charles Fell noted the state denied taking any action based on the expression of political beliefs. Rather, the decision not to renew Medeiros’ contract was made "on the basis of business judgment."

"I think (Stadium Authority Chairman) Mike Green would tell you it’s a good business decision," Fell said. "We’re making more money than before."

Fell called the settlement "reasonable for the state under the circumstances."

Medeiros claimed in a federal lawsuit that the authority terminated his 20-year relationship with the stadium in retaliation for his support of Lingle in 1998. The flea market operator handed out Lingle bumper stickers to merchants, who voluntarily put them on their cars. The suit said the bumper stickers were videotaped and stadium manager Edwin Hayashi demanded to know why Medeiros was supporting the Republican candidate.

Hayashi last February said that under a new contract with Consolidated Amusement, the stadium was expected to realize a net profit of $3.7 million — $1.2 million more than received from Medeiros.

Varady said Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo in August ordered the two sides to mediate the dispute.

Medeiros, who has produce and exercise equipment businesses in Honolulu, is thinking of starting up another flea market elsewhere, Varady said.

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