Friday, July 30, 2010

Millville Police Dept pays $100,000 to settle sexual harassment suit

On February 22, 2010, the City of Millville (Cumberland County) agreed to pay $100,000 to a female Millville police officer who sued her follow officers for allegedly subjecting her to "repeated humiliating and degrading sexual harassment."

In her suit, Jennifer Gentile claimed that her fellow officers and members of upper management would "make sexual comments about her breasts and what they desired to do to her sexually." She alleged that one of her superior officers would state that he always wanted to "get in her pants."

She claims that she would "basically hide in her office" and take the elevator to the basement to enter and leave the building to avoid contact with the harassing co-workers. She complained that upper management was not responsive to her complaints and took no action against her harassers.

The case is captioned Gentile v. Millville, Docket No. CUM-L-701-09 and Gentile's attorney was James M. Carter of Turnersville. The lawsuit and settlement agreement are on-line here.

None of Gentile's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $100,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Millville or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Millville or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Gentile $100,000 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.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

State pays $90,000 to family of prisoner who died in custody

On January 15, 2010, the State of New Jersey, Department of Corrections agreed to pay $90,000 to the mother of a man who died at Eastern State Prison on April 23, 2007.

In her suit, Hazel Richardson, mother Rickie Allen Goldware, alleged that her son, classified as a psychiatric patient, was beaten by guards and forcibly medicated while strapped to a chair.

The case is captioned Richardson v. State of New Jersey, Federal Case No. 09-cv-01383 and the mother's attorney was Vijayant Pawar of Morristown. The lawsuit and settlement agreement are on-line here.

None of Richardson's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $90,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the Department of Corrections or any of its employees. All that is known for sure is that the State or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Richardson $90,000 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.

State pays $75,000 to family of prisoner who committed suicide

On July 10, 2009, the State of New Jersey, Department of Corrections agreed to pay $75,000 to the family of a man who allegedly hanged himself in his prison cell while incarcerated at Northern State Prison.

In their suit, the family of Tyree Wilson alleged that prison officials were "deliberately indifferent" to Wilson's medical needs, and that prison guards Todd Barnett and Craig Sears "failed to conduct the required rounds in the Unit in which [Wilson] was placed for close observation. The suit also accuses medical professionals employed by CFG Health Systems, LLC., a private vendor of health services, of failing to properly diagnose and treat Wilson. Wilson's family alleged that these failures, along with "injuries deliberately, wantonly and maliciously inflicted upon" Wilson led to his alleged suicide on January 16, 2005

The case is captioned Estate of Tyree Wilson v. Northern State Prison, et al., Federal Case No. 07-cv-1942 (WJM) and the Wilson family's attorney was Michael D'Aquanni of Springfield. A court opinion and settlement agreement are on-line here. There may have been a separate settlement with CFG Health Systems, LLC, but since that company is private, it does not respond to Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests.

None of the family's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $75,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the Department of Corrections or any of its employees. All that is known for sure is that the State or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the family $75,000 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, July 15, 2010

Gloucester County pays $35,000 to settle prison guard beating suit

Update: July 20, 2010: Since I didn't have the first names of the officers sued, I submitted an OPRA request to Gloucester Township for those names. According to a July 20, 2010 e-mail from Debra E. Press-Costello, Deputy Clerk for the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the actual names of the four individual defendants are:

Antonio J. Frontado
Richard S. Fox
Michael P. Hickman
Michael McLaughlin


On January 22, 2010, the County of Gloucester agreed to pay $35,000 to a Pitman man who sued three officers at the Gloucester County Corrections Facility for allegedly beating him.

In his suit, Ryan Martin said that on January 22, 2008, while an inmate at the Corrections Facility, Officers Furtado (also spelled Fortago), Fox, Hickman and McGloughlin beat him "mercilessly." Unfortunately, the court records do not identify the officers' first names.

The case is captioned Martin v. Gloucester County, Federal Case No. 1:09-04483 and Martin's attorney was Michael M. Mulligan of Carney's Point. The lawsuit and settlement agreement are on-line here.

None of Martin's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $35,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Gloucester or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Gloucester or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Martin $35,000 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, July 14, 2010

Elizabeth pays $5,000 to settle police excessive force suit

On February 13, 2010, the City of Elizabeth (Union County) agreed to pay $5,000 to a man who sued members of the Elizabeth Police Department for allegedly punching him and hitting him in the head with a sharp object.

In an August 25, 2009 court opinion, United States District Judge Jose L. Linares describes Boone's lawsuit's allegations. According to the opinion, Elizabeth Police Officers Amilcar Colon and David Conrad, while in plain clothes on June 11, 2005, observed Boone on a bicycle interacting with a person at the intersection of Jackson and Bond. Officer "Conrad saw Boone holding money in his right hand after the interaction." When of the officers approached, Boone allegedly pedaled away and shouted that he "didn't sell anything."

According to allegations summarized in the opinion, after Boone jumped a fence and entered an Anna Street residence by kicking down the rear door, he surrendered to officers. Boone alleges that after he was handcuffed, one or two of the officers punched him and that a sharp object struck his head and drew blood. Officer Colon claimed that he wasn't present at the arrest and that Boone's head wound was a result of him going over the handlebars of his bike.

Boone was arrested for various charges and was sentenced to three years probation on July 31, 2006. He brought his civil suit on March 30, 2007. Also named in the suit sere Michael Kurinzi and Vincent Flatley.

The case is captioned Boone v. Elizabeth, Federal Case No. 2:07-cv-01848 and Boone's attorney was Robert Alan Ungvary of Elizabeth. Judge Linares' opinion and settlement agreement are on-line here.

None of Boone's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $5,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Elizabeth or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Elizabeth or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Boone $5,000 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.