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State pays protester $19K to settle lawsuit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The state of Wisconsin has paid a Capitol protester $19,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from a 2011 altercation in which a state employee stabbed himself when popping her red heart-shaped balloon.

Leslie Peterson filed the civil lawsuit against Department of Administration worker Ron Blair. He pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge in November 2011, but it was dismissed after he completed a deferred prosecution agreement.

Peterson attorney Jeff Scott Olson said Tuesday that Peterson was paid $19,000 last week by the state to settle the civil lawsuit. Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said the case was resolved in the best interest of taxpayers.

Blair said at the time that he popped Peterson’s balloon because he was tired of retrieving balloons from the ceiling of the Capitol.

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