Village of Marvin settles lawsuit with council member for $75,000

A $75,000 settlement has been reached surrounding multiple lawsuits involving the Village of Marvin and one of its own council members -- Mary Shkut.

Marvin Mayor Joe Pollino believes the settlement was rushed.

"Did we miss anything?" Pollino asked. "Did we pay too much? Should we pay anything?"

The settlement goes to council member Shkut for her legal fees. She sued the town, mayor and some council members last year when they tried to block her appointment because it was done when some were absent from a meeting.

The mayor and council member Kim Vandenberg, fighting against her appointment, sued back as private citizens since they were not allowed to sue Shkut as a governing body. That's when Shkut dropped a bombshell, alleging they used taxpayer dollars to fund their private lawsuit.

LINK: Mayor, council member of Marvin accused of illegally spending tax dollars

"There was no misappropriation of funds and that's what the judge found," Pollino said.

Union County Superior Court Judge Christopher W. Bragg ruled, "There is no other evidence submitted that demonstrates that attorney T.C. Morphis, Jr. billed or attempted to bill the Village of Marvin for work performed on this case."

Then, another twist -- following the judge's ruling, the remaining council members (Nick Dispenziere and Robert Epps) voted to settle her case for $75,000 during a meeting on Monday. It was a settlement that blindsided the Mayor and Vandenburg.

"Number one: Did we pay too much money?" Pollino asked.

The mayor does not get a vote in Marvin and with Shkut not voting due to a conflict of interest, Vandenberg was outvoted 2-1.

"I did feel like it was rushed," Vandenberg said. "We skipped some steps. We went straight to the settlement. We didn't have all of the information."

They don't feel the taxpayers need to pay for Shkut's legal fees. Skhut says, at one point, they didn't either.

"I tried to offer to settle this case in October and at that time I offered to absorb all of the legal fees I expended at that point and it wouldn't have cost the Village or the taxpayers anything at all," Shkut said.

Now, taxpayers are on the hook.

Pollino and Vandenberg each provided depositions during the respective legal battles but said they were disappointed that a settlement was reached before Shkut and Dispenziere conducted their depositions.

Shkut said there was "no particular planning of that."

What's listed in those depositions is restricted due to a gag order. Per the settlement, "Neither party will seek enforcement of the gag order" and they will "mutually petition [the] court to have [the] gag order removed."

Shkut told FOX 46 her legal fees eclipsed the $75,000 that she was awarded throughout this process and she's paid roughly $25,000 out of pocket.

Shkut will maintain her seat on village council.