HUDSON, Ohio (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a legal fight between local leaders is costing taxpayers big money.

The I-Team requested the invoices Hudson City Council received for legal bills they are paying to defend the lawsuit filed by Councilwoman Nicole Kowalski. The invoice shows two attorneys are working on the case and, so far, billed the city $15,250 for their work since January.

Kowalski filed a lawsuit in Summit County Common Pleas Court in December. She is fighting city council’s Dec. 6 decision to censure her and is asking a judge to overturn council’s action.

Council voted to publicly scold Kowalski, with what’s called a censure.

The censure was approve by council after Council President Chris Foster accused Kowalski of initiating an investigation on a council candidate about an alleged campaign finance violation, and accusing her of spending money and council resources pursuing the matter.

Kowalski has denied the allegations. The I-Team has learned through a public record’s request that she has also offered to dismiss the lawsuit if council will rescind the censure.

“As a long-time Hudson resident and twice-elected council member, Councilor Kowalski’s desire is to act in the best interests of the city and its residents, and to work productively with other members of council,” states a Jan. 24 letter from her attorney to the lawyer representing council. “The events of December 6, 2022, and the following weeks have created a divide in council and in the community. Councilor Kowalski has taken resident comments at recent council meetings to heart, and wants to move forward in a productive, cooperative manner and to continue to serve the community. For settlement purposes only, Councilor Kowalski is willing to dismiss the Action and not seek damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs, if Council agrees to rescind the December 6, 2022 censure of her with a majority vote.”

We emailed every council member asking if they are considering settling.  Most did not respond.

Foster sent the following statement:

“I cannot speak to the lawsuit for obvious reasons,“ Foster stated. “So please do not construe a lack of direct response to mean anything more than speaking about an active lawsuit is irresponsible and ill advised.”