Thursday, February 10, 2011

Robbinsville pays $9,000 to settle lawsuit by former Playgirl Man of the Year

On January 10, 2011, the Township of Robbinsville (Mercer County) agreed to pay $9,000 to a California man who sued Mayor David Fried, Police Chief Martin Masseroni and Township Administrator Mary K. Cafferty for reneging on an employment offer.

In his suit, John M. Holliday said that in 2007 he was offered a position as a Robbinsville police officer. After he completed the application process and accepted the position, he claims that he began moving his wife and family from California to New Jersey. Holliday alleges, however, that on October 9, 2007, the Township revoked its employment offer claiming that Holliday had "lacked full disclosure of his employment history."

Acording to an article in the October 16, 2009 Trentonian ("Playgirl hunk suing R'ville over disputed officer's job," by Joe D'Aqula), Holliday's employment offer was revoked because he was a former "Playgirl Magazine Man of the Year" who posed nude for the magazine.

The case is captioned Holliday v. Robbinsville, New Jersey Superior Court, Docket No. MER-L-2514-09 and Holliday's attorney was Raymond C. Staub of Trenton. 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 Holliday's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $9,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Robbinsville or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Robbinsville or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Holliday $9,000 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.