LINCOLN — Four long-running lawsuits against the former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, Kermit Brashear of Omaha, have been settled out of court.
Terms of the settlement were not made public, and both Brashear, who served in the Legislature from 1995 to 2007, and the lawyers who sued him declined to comment on Monday.
“I’m required to have no comment,” said Brashear, 72. “That’s the most careful way I can observe the settlement.”
The lawsuits were filed in 2013 and 2014 over the default on loans made to the senator from a trust associated with the late Richard “Dick” Herman, an Omaha businessman and longtime Republican Party supporter. Herman had been Brashear’s legal client for three decades.
The Herman Trust, an entity established by Brashear as Herman’s attorney, also accused the former legislator of legal malpractice.
The claims arose out of two loans made by the Herman Trust to Brashear: of $264,000 in 2010 and an additional $500,000 in January of 2011.
Three of the lawsuits, filed in March of 2013, claimed that Brashear had defaulted on the loans and owed the Trust $764,000 plus about $15,000 in interest.
The trust also accused Brashear, in a January 2014 malpractice lawsuit, of failing to advise Herman to hire an independent attorney before making the loans and never having Herman sign a waiver for Brashear’s conflict of interest in representing both the lender and the loan recipient.
Brashear, the Herman Trust claimed, had also misrepresented the amount of equity he had in the office building used as collateral for the loan and failed to reveal that other creditors claimed the building, at 711 N. 108th Court, as collateral for other loans.
In August of 2012, the Herman Trust terminated Brashear as its legal representative. The lawsuits followed.
One of the lawyers representing the Herman Trust, Chris Tjaden of Omaha, said he would have no comment on the settlement, which required each party to pay their own legal costs.
The future of the 24,000-square-foot office building at the center of the lawsuit was not revealed by either party. The building was listed for sale in 2015 for $3.25 million, but was taken off the market at the end of that year.
Brashear, on Monday, said that his law firm still occupies a portion of the building. The firm, he said, includes two attorneys and two paralegals.
During an interview in March of 2013, just after the first lawsuits were filed, Brashear said he was surprised by the legal action but hoped a settlement could be reached.
“I’m sorry that it’s come to this, ” he said. “Mr. Herman has always been very good to me. He’s a man of great accomplishment.”
Herman, who operated a trucking company and a Budweiser beer distributorship, died in July 2015. He served as a national committeeman for the state GOP, and was political adviser to numerous presidents and Republican presidential hopefuls.
Brashear, at that time, characterized the dispute as involving a real estate investment gone bad. He had purchased the building on 108th Court for $950,000 in 1998. It is currently valued for tax purposes at $1.96 million. In 2015, when it was listed for sale, one third of the building was vacant.
“In real estate investment, sometimes things don’t work out exactly as you’d like,” Brashear said back in 2013.