Monday, December 8, 2014

Weehawken pays $49,500 to settle gender discrimination suit.

On January 7, 2014, the Township of Weehawken (Hudson County) agreed to pay $49,500 to a female employee who had sued for gender discrimination and creating a hostile work environment.  The Township also agreed to transfer the employee to another Township department with her retaining the same seniority and benefits.  Of the $49,500, $4,500 was specifically said to compensate the employee for attorney fees expended to contest what appears to be a municipal court complaint that was filed against her.

In her suit, Pilar Bardroff, who has been employed by the Township since 1992, most recently served Weehawken as its Assistant Recycling Coordinator. After Recycling Coordinator Stanley Iacono retired on December 31, 2007, Bardroff said that she was the "de facto" Recycling Coordinator and sought to be given that title and the attendant pay.  Instead of promoting her, Bardroff alleged that the Township left the position open until May 2010 and filled it with a less qualified male.  The male allegedly made $64,000 per year while Bardroff made $34,000.

She also alleged that she was transferred to another department in another building that was in disrepair, infested with mice and insects, reeked of chemical fumes and had pornographic graffiti displayed.  She also claimed that her filing cabinet was broken into by Public Works Director Robert Barsa and that Weehawken officials withheld her personal mail for over a year.

The case is captioned Bardroff v. Weehawken, Docket No. HUD-L-167-12 and Bardroff's attorney was Louis A. Zayas of North Bergen.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Bardroff's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the 449,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Weehawken or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Weehawken or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Bardroff $49,500 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Freehold secretly pays $7,500 to settle police negligent arrest case.

On October 10, 2014, the Borough of Freehold (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $7,500 to a Trenton man who sued members of the Freehold Police Department for allegedly not taking his disability into account when arresting him.

In his suit, Jerome White said that he had called 911 on July 8, 2010 to report a dispute he was having with a clerk at a check cashing store.  The police officer who took White's call, who White said was informed that he was wheelchair bound, ran a check on him and learned that he had warrants out for his arrest.  When Officers Eduardo Santana, Sean Healy and and Christopher Colaner came to arrest White, he claims that they did so in an "unreasonable manner."  Despite being allegedly aware of his disability, the officer allegedly forced him out of a vehicle in which he was sitting causing him to fall to the pavement.  The officers were then allegedly "verbally abusive" to him as he lay on the pavement.

Also named in the suit were Freehold Police Chief Mitch Roth.

The case is captioned White v. Freehold, Federal Case No. 11-cv-00722 and White's attorney was Jonathan D. Singer of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of White's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $7,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Freehold or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Freehold or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay White $7,500 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Plainfield secretly gives police captain back pay, release from discipline and $27,500 in attorney fees to settle whistleblower suit.

On April 2, 2013, the City of Plainfield (Union County) agreed to reinstate a police lieutenant to his previous position of captain, dismiss all disciplinary charges against him and pay his attorneys $27,500 to settle his whistleblower suit against the City and former Police Director Martin R. Hellwig.  In his suit, the captain said that he was demoted to lieutenant on May 26, 2010 after having reported Director Hellwig's alleged work-related use of the Internet to solicit prostitution services.

The plaintiff, Captain Michael Gilliam, claimed that his demotion was a direct result of his report of Hellwig's alleged activities to to Plainfield's business administrator.  According to the blog Plainfield Today, Hellwig retired in late 2013.

The case is captioned Gilliam v. Plainfield, Docket No. UNN-L-2104-11 and Gilliam's attorney was Cahn & Parra of Edison.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of Gilliam's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the concessions and payment do not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Plainfield or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Plainfield or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather settle with Gilliam than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Berkeley secretly pays $110,000 to settle police excessive force suit.

On November 4, 2014, the Township of Berkeley (Ocean County) agreed to pay $110,000 to a Toms River man who sued members of the Berkeley Police Department for allegedly beating him while he was in a holding cell.

In his suit, Darren Yurick said that on January 27, 2013, he was arrested by Berkeley Officers Patrick J. Stesner, Jr. and Michael Tier.  He said that after being taken back to the station he "was handcuffed and subsequently assaulted with excessive force and without justification by Defendants Stesner and Tier while in a holding cell."

Also named in the suit was Berkeley Police Chief Karin DiMichele and Sergeant Kevin Santucci.

The case is captioned Yurick v. Berkeley, Federal Case No. 3:14-cv-03655 and Yurick's attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Yurick's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $110,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Berkeley or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Berkeley or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Yurick $110,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Perth Amboy secretly pays $70,000 to settle police false arrest/excessive force suit

On December 1, 2014, the City of Perth Amboy (Middlesex County) agreed to pay $70,000 to an Old Bridge woman who sued members of the Perth Amboy Police Department for allegedly arresting her without probable cause and with excessive force.

In her suit, Meredith G. Faltings said that on April 1, 2011, Officers Jesus Martinez and Nicholas Millroy assaulted her "without justification and with excessive force" during a domestic disturbance call.  She claimed that the charges against her for Obstructing the Administration of Law and Disorderly Conduct were later dismissed in municipal court.

Also named in the suit was Perth Amboy Police Chief Benjamin Ruiz.

The case is captioned Faltings v. Perth Amboy, Federal Case No. 2:13-cv-1976 and Faltings's attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of Faltings's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $70,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Perth Amboy or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Perth Amboy or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Faltings $70,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

New Milford secretly pays $125,000 to settle police lieutenant's whistle blower suit.

On November 19, 2014, the Borough of New Milford (Bergen County) agreed to pay $125,000 to a police lieutenant who claimed that Borough officials improperly refused to promote him.

In his suit, John F. Kiene, who has been with the New Milford Police Department since, 1982, said that former police chief Frank Papapietro refused to recommend his promotion to the rank of captain despite him having acted as a "de facto captain since 2008."  As part of the agreement, Kiene will be promoted to captain effective November 24, 2014 and will retire from the department on January 1, 2017.

The case is captioned Kiene v. New Milford, Bergen County Superior Court Docket No. BER-L-4690-12 and Kiene's attorney was Edward J. Nolan of Hackensack.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of Kiene's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $125,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by New Milford or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that New Milford or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Kiene $125,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Deptford school board secretly settles with former high school vice principal.

On February 22, 2014, the Deptford Township Board of Education (Gloucester County) agreed to pay $20,000 and make other concessions to its former high school vice principal who sued the board for Law Against Discrimination and Family Medical Leave Act violations.

In his suit, Franco Colamarco, who has been employed at the school district since 2005, said that in 2012 he "was unlawfully demoted and returned to his prior position as a teacher."  He said that the demotion was due to him going out on disability on January 27, 2012 for a back injury.  He also that he was removed from the vice principal position in part because principal Melvin Allen preferred a female vice principal.

The case is captioned Colamarco v. Deptford Township Board of Education, Gloucester County Superior Court Docket No. GLO-L-1539-12 and Colamarco's attorney was Kevin M. Costello of Mount Laurel.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of Colamarco's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $20,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Deptford or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Deptford or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Colamarco $20,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.