Sunday, May 24, 2015

Stafford quietly pays $20,000 to settle animal control officer's discrimination suit.

On March 4, 2015, the Township of Stafford (Ocean County) agreed to pay $20,000 to a female animal control officer who claimed gender discrimination when she wasn't being paid in accordance with the Township's salary ordinance.

In her suit, Kelly Karch, who became a full time animal control officer in March 2012, said that she was paid $23,689.71 in 2012 even though the Township's salary ordinance required her pay to be between $36,530.22 and $58,950.06.  She claimed that being female was a "motivating factor" for the Township's decision to pay her less.

The case is captioned Karch v. Stafford, Docket No. OCN-L-2093-13 and Karch'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 Karch'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 Stafford or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Stafford or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Karch $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.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Byram quietly pays $10,000 to settle police malicious prosecution suit

On March 11, 2015 the Township of Byram (Sussex County) agreed to pay $10,000 to a Newton man who sued the Byram Police Department for maliciously prosecuting him for drunk driving.

In his suit, Arthur M. Pirone said that on June 25, 2013, he was driving on U.S. Route 206 when in a "trance like mental status proximately caused by undiagnosed sleep apnea disease" he was "invoked in multiple collisions with street signs and a utility pole."  When Byram Officer John D'Onofrio responded to the incident, Pirone alleged that he immediately concluded that he had been drinking and arrested him for drunk driving even though there was no odor of alcohol present.  Pirone claimed he was taken to a hospital where blook was extracted from him when he was unable to consent.  He claimed that he was ultimately found not guilty of the drunk driving charge.

The case is captioned Pirone v. Byram, Federal Case No. 2:14-cv-0493 and Pirone's attorney was Gary Moore 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 Pirone's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $10,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Byram or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Byram or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Pirone $10,000 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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Two Cape May school districts and a private bus company pay $19,000 to settle bus aide's wrongful discharge lawsuit.

On February 18, 2015, the Cape May County Special Services School District, the Upper Township School District and the privately owned Sheppard Bus Service, Inc. agreed to pay $19,000 to a former school bus aide who said he was fired in retaliation for him having filed a previous lawsuit against another school district.

In his suit, Charles Donald Young said that in 2009 he settled a 2007 lawsuit against the Lower Cape May Regional School District because he was "regularly subjected to written and oral harassment" based on the Lower district's employees' "characterization of him as a homosexual" even though he is a heterosexual male.  Young claimed that shortly after he settled his suit against Lower, Upper and the Special Services School District, together with Sheppard, worked together to remove him from his position.  Young claimed that any grievances that had been filed against him were based on unfounded allegations and that the real reason for his firing was to retaliate against him for having brought his case against the Lower district.

The case is captioned Young v. Cape May County Special School District, et al, Docket No. CPM-L-189-12 and Young's attorney was Joseph C. Grassi of Wildwood.  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 Young's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $19,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the Cape May County Special Services School District, the Upper Township School District, Sheppard Bus Service, Inc. or any of their officials. All that is known for sure is that the defendants or their insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Young $19,000 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.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

LEAP Academy quietly pays $50,000 to settle employee's whistle blower suit.

On August 25, 2014, a Camden County charter school agreed to pay $50,000 to its former facilities manager who claimed he was retaliated against for reporting his supervisor's alledged requirement that he make repairs to her personal residence on the school's time and using school resources.

In his suit, Mark Paoli of Audubon said that Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Ph.D., the chief operating officer of the LEAP Academy University Charter School, required him to perform maintenance on her Voorhees home over a ten year period while Paoli was supposed to be working for the school.  Paoli's complaint listed several tasks, ranging from replacing light bulbs and fixing leaks to powerwashing her deck and picking up a picture frame and delivering it to her home.  Paoli's lawsuit claims that a laborer he needed for one task was paid for with a check drawn on the Alfred Santiago Scholarship Endowment.

Paoli claimed that his complaints to school administrators, including Business Administrator Pasquale Yacovelli, caused him to receive a poor evaluation, a cut in pay and ultimately replacement by a less-qualified person.

The case is captioned Paoli v. LEAP Academy, Docket No. CAM-L-114-13 and Paoli's attorney was Allan E. Richardson of Woodbyry.  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 Paoli's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $50,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by LEAP or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that LEAP or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Paoli $50,000 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, May 15, 2015

Westville quietly pays $180,000 to settle suit by woman who claimed she was forced to pee on cell floor in front of male officers.

On March 29, 2015 the Borough of Westville (Gloucester County) agreed to pay $180,000 to a Brooklawn woman who sued members a Westville Police Department for allegedly forcing her to pee on the floor of her jail cell in full view of male police officers.

In her suit, Rosa Badalamenti said that on March 20, 2010, Officer Michael Denick arrested her at Schileen's Pub on Delsea Drive.  She claimed that although she didn't resist, Denick applied excessive force during the arrest "causing marks and bruising on her chest and arms and wrists."  Denick took Badalamenti to the Westville police station and handcuffed her to a bench inside of a locked jail cell.  After she had been processed and was waiting for a friend to take her home, Badalamenti told Denick "of her urgent need to urinate and requested access to a bathroom."  There was no toilet facility or even a drain in Badalamenti's cell.  Badalamenti alleged that "Denick instructed her to urinate on the floor of her jail cell."  When she protested, Denick allegedly repeated his instruction.   Badalamenti claimed that "due to the excessive painful urgency and pressure" she "unfasten[ed] and lower[ed] her jeans and undergarments, in full view of other individuals and male police officers in the police department station, to squat, while handcuffed to the bench, and urinate on the floor of the jail cell."  She said that she was "unable to avoid soiling her person and clothing with urine."

The case is captioned Badalamenti v. Westville, Federal Case No. 1:11-cv-0439 and Badalamenti's attorney was Stephen R. Dumser of Mount Laurel.  Case documents are on-line here. Also named in the settlement was John Grady.

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 Badalamenti's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $180,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Westville or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Westville or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Badalamenti $180,000 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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

West Cape May pays $62,500 to settle whistle blower and age discrimination suit.

On November 24, 2014, the Borough of West Cape May (Cape May County) agreed to pay $62,500 to its former Recycling Coordinator who said he was fired because of his age and because he reported that his supervisor was drunk on job.

In his suit, David Cox, a Borough employee since 2006, said that he was "abruptly terminated" on May 5, 2011 for having reported that his supervisor, Robert Flynn, "was intoxicated at or during the course of his employment."  He claimed that after reporting Flynn, he was  treated differently and that Matt Franco, who was "significantly younger" than Cox, was hired and given some of Cox's duties.  The complaint says that Franco hit Cox in the head with a pipe, causing a concussion, but does not say whether Franco's actions were accidental or deliberate.

After claiming to have suffered a hostile work environment, Cox said that he made a written complaint to Borough Commissioner Peter Burke.  Burke allegedly summoned Plaintiff to the office on May 5, 2011 at which time he was "terminated immediately."  Cox claimed that he was, under duress, "coerced" to sign a separation agreement.  Cox said that Franco was put in his position after his firing.

The case is captioned Cox v. West Cape May, Docket No. CPM-L-205-12 and Cox's attorney was Joseph Ives Picillo of Turnersville.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Cox's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $62,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by West Cape May or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that West Cape May or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Cox $62,500 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.

Cape May County secretly pays $40,000 to settle whistle blower lawsuit.

On November 24, 2014, the County of Cape May agreed to pay $40,000 to a former carpenter in its Facilities Department who claimed that the County fired him for reporting that Department employees were doing un-permitted work and committing health and safety violations.

In his suit, Scott Smith said that employees of the County's Facilities Department committed many violations including "removal of fire rated sheet rock and replacing it with regular sheet rock" and were doing work without first getting required permits.  He claimed to have reported these violations to County officials Al Barnett, William Holmes, Ann Marie McMahon, Barbara Blakely-Marino and Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton.  McMahon allegedly told him that "permit requirements did not apply to the County" and didn't need to be followed.

Later, when working at the Crest Haven nursing home, he claimed that Joseph Martino, Acting Supervisor of Building Maintenance and Repair, was directing Facility employees to "simply cover up black mold in the ceilings by replacing ceiling tiles rather than treating the mold as required by law."  When he complained, he said that Martino developed a "negative attitude towards him."  After his complaints were allegedly ignored by Martino, Smith said that he went up the chain of command to Michael Owens, who is Martino's supervisor, and Facilities and Services Director Ann Marie McMahon.  He said that McMahon told him that she "only recently began the job, don't bog me down with paperwork and investigations like this."

As a result of him complaints, Smith claimed that he was fired after having received a bad performance review that was based on "completely fabricated" issues.

The case is captioned Smith v. County of Cape May, Docket No. CPM-L-80-13 and Smith's attorney was Daniel M. Kurkowski of Cape May.  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 Smith's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $40,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Cape May or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Cape May or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Smith $40,000 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.