The emergency worker fired by the state for sending a false missile alert has hired an attorney, and plans to sue the state for defamation.
The state has not identified the worker, but his attorney, Michael Green, says many people already know who he is, because the worker has received numerous death threats.
So what does it take to prove that the state is liable?
Green says his client has been made a scapegoat in all this. The worker has been living in fear because of the death threats, and Green says it’s because the state lied about what happened.
Once the panic died down on Jan. 13, state officials, including the governor, announced that the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency worker who issued the missile alert had mistakenly pressed the wrong button.
On Tuesday, Jan. 30, the FCC and the state added that the worker didn’t know it was a drill, and actually thought there was a missile attack.
“He never pressed the wrong button. He pressed the button he wanted to press, because the way it came out, he thinks we’re in imminent danger. Within 20 minutes, we might not be here anymore,” Green said.
The state has not released the workers name, but says it plans to.
“People want to kill him. They identified him as a male, 10 years in the office. They show the back of a man sitting on a desk. It’s not rocket science to figure out who it is,” Green said.
KHON2 reached out to David Major, a constitutional law attorney for the firm Bays Lung Rose Holma, who also handles defamation lawsuits. He says the state has a wide range of immunity against defamation lawsuits.
“It provides for protections for the state, because if every time somebody disagreed with what the state said, they could sue them, it would lead to a huge problem in the court system,” Major said.
Major says the worker would have to prove that what the state said about him and the incident was false.
Green says he might also sue the state for slander and libel.
“Because they’re saying that he made a mistake?” KHON2 asked.
“No, because they lied about what happened. It’s got to be untrue what they said about him. It’s got to be false,” Green said.
It’s not clear yet if the worker wants his job back.
We reached out to the state, and a spokesman says it does not comment on pending litigation.