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The couple who won a $5.2 million jury verdict against polygamous towns on the Utah-Arizona line settled the case for significantly less money, according to an agreement disclosed Thursday.
Ron and Jinjer Cooke will receive about $3 million, the agreement says. The money will be paid by insurers representing Hildale, Utah; Colorado City, Ariz.; and utility companies controlled by the two towns.
The agreement says $1.5 million will be paid by Utah Local Governments Trust a cooperative providing insurance coverage to about 550 cities, counties and special service districts across the state, including Sandy, St. George, Taylorsville, and Utah and Summit counties. The trust provided insurance to Hildale during the time at issue in the Cooke lawsuit.
Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, who serves on the trust's board, on Thursday said the $1.5 million payment will not cause a rate increase for the local governments that belong to the cooperative.
"Certainly it impacts the bottom line," Seghini said, "but it doesn't mean we are going to raise the rates on other people."
The Utah Local Governments Trust 2013 annual report showed $80 million in assets compared to $36 million in liabilities.
Hildale no longer belongs to the Utah Local Governments Trust. Seghini said the trust denied coverage to Hildale in 2013 because the town was deemed, "High risk in terms of the kinds of decisions they make."
St. Paul Guardian Insurance Co. agreed to pay $400,000 to the Cookes immediately and to pay the Cookes $3,840 a month for the next 20 years.
American Automobile Insurance Co. agreed to pay $100,000.
The parties signed the agreement in July. An attorney for Hildale provided a copy of the agreement Thursday, hours before the attorney and The Tribune were scheduled to appear before the Utah State Records Committee. The attorney, Blake Hamilton, declined to discuss the agreement.
Bill Walker, the Cookes' attorney, declined to discuss specifics of the settlement Thursday, citing a confidentiality clause that was part of the agreement.
In general, he said the agreement eliminated what could have been lengthy appeals and the risk the jury verdict would be reduced.
He said the agreement ensured the Cookes received everything they wanted.
"At the beginning of this case they didn't even demand money," Walker said. "They wanted water and electricity and sewer."
Hildale and Colorado City are home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Ron Cooke was raised in the faith then left it and the towns as a teenager.
A work accident disabled Ron Cooke and he returned to Colorado City in 2008 with his wife and children. But the city government and utilities refused to connect utilities.
They eventually provided electricity and sewer connections, but the towns and utilities refused to provide water. The Cookes filed a lawsuit in federal court in Phoenix in 2010 alleging they were being discriminated against on the basis of religion. The state of Arizona joined the case.
At trial earlier this year, the Cookes testified about having to haul sewage from their home and water to their home, and what they described as harassment from the towns' marshals and public officials. Jurors also heard from former FLDS security personnel about the network of cameras and police databases the security would use to monitor the Cookes and others in Hildale and Colorado City.
The jury issued its verdict in March. About a month later, the Cookes received a water connection.
The Cooke case also provided evidence in an ongoing U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit alleging housing discrimination by the two towns. The settlement agreement prohibits the Cookes from seeking damages as a party in that lawsuit.
Hildale and Colorado City must continue providing the Cookes with utilities, the agreement says.
email@example.com Twitter: @natecarlisle • Correction
An earlier version of this story omitted the monthly payments and, as a result, miscalculated the terms to say the settlement was worth only $2 million.