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They don’t know how to haggle

July 5, 2008

Last week’s settlement in the Westwind Barn lawsuit closed an embarrassing chapter in the history of Los Altos Hills. It takes a lot to embarrass Los Altos Hills, but allegations that the ranch hands at such an iconic location endured racial slurs, lived in unventilated rooms and worked overtime without pay should be enough to do it.

Interestingly, the plaintiffs alleged $500,000 in damages only to wind up getting $675,000 from the settlement. This is probably because the lawyer could have filed an additional claim for attorney’s fees, but I prefer to attribute it to an inability to haggle on the part of Friends of Westwind Barn. I imagine the negotiations went something like this:

Friends of Westwind Barn lawyer: How much will it take to make this case go away?

Plaintiffs’ lawyer: Since the City of the Town of Los Altos Hills already settled with my clients for $75,000, they are willing to deduct that from their overall claim, bringing the total request to $425,000.

Friends of Westwind Barn lawyer: How about $600,000?

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