Lax supervision and oversight at the facility allowed Painter to prey on the at-risk youth. Police found the boys not far from the facility and began an investigation, which resulted in criminal charges against Painter. The perpetrator admitted abusing the boys, pleaded guilty, and is currently serving 15 years in prison.
By concidence, a colleague of Randy Knutson knew the father of one of the boys. Knutson and Tim Lessman of the Knutson + Casey law firm were joined by attorneys Josh Peck of Jeff Anderson and Associates and Rich Ruohonen of TSR Injury Law. The three law firms combined their resources to hold The Hills accountable, bringing claims on behalf of the boys.
But it wasn’t easy.
“They told us there was a $2 million policy for all four kids, and we claimed that each incident was different, so the total should be $8 million,” Knutson says. “We argued about that for a long time, and both sides hired lawyers who were experts in insurance contract interpretation. Once that got sorted out, we were able to settle it.”
After more than two years of litigation by the law firms the cases were settled in 2021 for an undisclosed seven-figure amount.
One of the four boys can’t be located. The boy represented by Knutson + Casey “is not doing great,” according to Knutson.
Still, he says, “I hope that knowing he has money he can use the rest of his life ends up being helpful.”
Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2021 here.
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