Saturday, December 27, 2008

Woodlynne pays $105K to former police officers

In September 2008, the Borough of Woodlynne in Camden County paid $105,000 to two former Caucasian police officers who claimed reverse discrimination because the town's mayor, Jeraldo Fuentes, preferred to give promotions to Latinos. The officers who were plaintiff in the suit were David Gunnings and Andrew Lee. Another plaintiff, William Moore, was dismissed from the suit because of his failure to abide with pretrial discovery obligations. The settlement agreement and other court filings are at:

http://www.lpcnj.org/OGTF/Woodlynne.pdf

A December 28, 2007 court opinion, included with the documents at the above link, contains some interesting allegations regarding Woodlynne politics.

The statements above were all taken from the officers' version of events. The settlement agreement expressly states that the $105,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the Borough or any of its officers or employees. All that is known for sure is that Woodlynne Borough and perhaps its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that they would rather pay the officers and their lawyers $105,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the Borough's 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 officers' claims were true, and the Borough 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.

ABOUT ME AND WHY I'M POSTING THIS.

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project which seeks to increase governmental transparency and accountability, particularly at a local level. As part of my work, I routinely check civil court cases where at least one of the parties is a government agency or official. Sometimes I run across settlements that may be of interest to citizens and taxpayers. For more information on the Libertarian Party, visit www.njlp.org

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey