Guard Nixes Kennedy Settlement Offer

Wednesday, July 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An airport security guard who said Rep. Patrick Kennedy shoved and hurt her during a confrontation about his oversized luggage has rejected his $25,000 settlement offer.

Kennedy's chief of staff Tony Marcella said the Rhode Island congressman made the offer last week to Della Patton against the advice of his lawyers, who felt $25,000 was excessive and worried about copycat lawsuits.

``But he felt it was a decent thing to do and would hopefully bring a close to this whole chapter,'' Marcella said.

Patton, 58, filed a battery complaint with police claiming Kennedy hurt her arm March 26 while he was rushing to catch a plane at Los Angeles International Airport.

Kennedy, son of Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, has admitted acting rudely, but denied hurting Patton.

The Los Angeles city attorney's office declined to bring charges but ordered an informal hearing in May in which Kennedy apologized to Patton.

Kennedy's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, sent a letter Thursday to Patton's lawyer, George Mallory, proposing the $25,000 payment.

Lowell said the figure was ``based on the congressman's concern, not an assessment of real damage or injury.''

Patton was fired by Argenbright Security in April when the company learned she had lied about her criminal record, which includes convictions for shoplifting, robbery and drug possession between 1962 and 1983. Argenbright said the decision was unrelated to the Kennedy case.

Mallory, in his letter rejecting the offer, said Kennedy was responsible for Patton losing her job.

Lowell said Patton previously demanded a $250,000 settlement, covering 10 years of lost salary. Mallory denied asking for a specific amount, but would not say what he would accept.

A surveillance videotape of the confrontation shows Kennedy trying to fit a bag through an X-ray machine, then shoving Patton when she tried to stop him, jostling a metal detector archway.