Published: Mar 05, 2013 3:14 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County is settling, rather than fighting, a whistle-blower lawsuit. Commissioners voted today, to pay $473,000 to seven plaintiffs.

They worked for the county a few years ago, and became part of an investigation into employees, doing private work, on county time. Lee fired them. A judge later ordered the county to re-hire them, ruling they were whistle-blowers, not wrong-doers. They sued, and county government settled on advice of its attorney. She says damages could be far greater, if the cases ever went to trial.