Vacancies prompt county to hire private law firm to help with cases

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Cascade County has hired a private law firm to assist the Cascade County Attorney’s Office, which is experiencing a significant number of attorney vacancies with two major civil cases pending.

At a special meeting Friday, commissioners approved a legal services agreement with Ugrin, Alexander and Zadick in which the firm’s attorneys will serve as independent contractors to provide legal representation to the county.

Costs for the initial six-month term are $7,500 per month for a total of $45,000.

“We are using vacation savings to fund this contract,” County Attorney Josh Racki said.

There are three vacancies in the office, Racki said.

These vacancies come at a time when the county is preparing for two major civil cases.

Cascade County sued the Montana Department of Corrections, alleging it was in breach of contract for failing to reimburse detention center inmates who the county says are the responsibility of the DOC.

Following: Cascade County lawsuit claims DOC owes more than $700,000 for inmate housing

The county also decided to intervene alongside Lewis and Clark County in the state Supreme Court in a lawsuit filed by the Montana Public Employees Retirement Board.

MPERB demanded more than $5 million from Lewis and Clark County after the county spun off from the PureView Health Center. Its employees are part of the Public Employees Retirement Scheme.

Attorneys for Ugrin, Alexander and Zadick will assist the county in these matters, Racki said.

The deal will end on August 31

Karl Puckett covers the city of Great Falls and Cascade County for the Tribune. He can be reached at kpuckett@greatfallstribune or 406-791-1471, or on Twitter at @GFTrib_KPuckett.

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