Friday, December 27, 2013

Keansburg pays $5,000 to settle police false arrest suit

On March 28, 2013, the Borough of Keansburg (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $5,000 to a local woman and her minor son who sued members of the Keansburg Police Department for allegedly detaining them without probable cause and subjecting them to "coercive, psychological interrogation tactics."

In their suit, Colleen Davis and her then nine-year old son said that their vehicle was stopped on December 14, 2007 and taken into custody by Patrol Officers Jason Lopez, Francis Wood, Joseph Pezzano, Joseph Kane, Nicolas Angerami and Michael Pigott.  Davis claimed that the officers arrested her without probable cause and with their service weapons drawn.  She alleged that the officers verbally abused, threatened and physically assaulted her in front of her son and threatened both her and her son with having her son taken away by the Division of Youth and Family Services.  Ultimately, she claimed, she was "brow-beat" into giving a statement concerning a crime allegedly committed by her boyfriend, Donald Neri. She was charged with Disorderly Conduct and was ultimately found not guilty of that charge.

She further claimed that the Keansburg Police continued to her harass her after the December 14, 2007 which forced her to relocate to Port Monmouth, New Jersey.

Also named in the suit was Keansburg Police Chief Raymond O'Hare.

The case is captioned Davis v. Keansburg, Federal Case No. 3:09-cv-06277 and Davis's attorney was Robert F. Varady of Union.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Davis' 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 Keansburg or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Keansburg or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Davis $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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Howell pays $50,000 to settle female police officer's gender discrimination suit.

On July 18, 2013, the Township of Howell (Monmouth County) confidentially agreed to pay $50,000 to a former Township police officer who sued that male officers in the department discriminated against her because of her gender.

In her suit, Minelli Torres, who began her career with Howell in 2002, said that she has been "subjected to discriminatory behavior based on her female gender by Lieutenant Andrew Kudrick" since soon after she was hired.  She claims that Kudrick photocopied her paycheck and after she asked that future paychecks be put in sealed envelopes "the pattern of discriminatory and illegal behavior" began. 

She claimed that after being involved in a motor vehicle accident and learning that she was pregnant, she was ordered to patrol Route 9 because she allegedly "was not pulling enough cars over." She claimed that this reassignment made her feel "embarrassed and humiliated in front of her co-workers." 

She verbally brought her concerns to Local PBA President Corporal Guy Arancio° who reported them to police superior officers. She later told Arancio that she didn't wish to pursue the matter but she was later contacted by Captain Jeff Mayfield who demanded that she give a written statement regarding the alleged harassment by Kudrick.  She claimed that she then was served with disciplinary charges "for insubordination and untruthfulness surrounding her allegations of harassment directed at Lieutenant Kudrick."

As part of the settlement, Torres agreed to resign from the Howell Police Department effective June 9, 2010.

The case is captioned Torres v. Howell, Monmouth County Superior Court Docket No. MON-L-1664-09 and Torres's attorney was Frank M. Crivelli of Hamilton.  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 Torres'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 Howell or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Howell or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Torres $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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hoboken pays $99,000 to settle police officer's racial discrimination case.

On May 21, 2013, the City of Hoboken (Hudson County) agreed to pay $99,000 to a police officer who sued members of the Hoboken Police Department for racial discrimination and ethnic hostility.  The officer also agreed to retire from the Department "effective May 1, 2014 or on the twenty fifth (25th) anniversary of his employment for retirement pension purposes, whichever date is later."

In his suit, William James said that African-American officers such as him were routinely passed over for promotion.  He claimed that the Hoboken Police Department uses "an arbitrary process of 'off the books' promotions" which gives the police administration "unfettered discretion to place cronies, friends or favorites in 'acting' positions of higher rank."  Beyond promotional issues, James also claimed that he "saw images of Hoboken Police Personnel wearing what are obviously Ku Klux Klan hoods made out of table napkins."

Individually named in the suit were former Mayor David Roberts, Former Police Chief Carmen V. LaBruno and former Public Safety Director William Bergen.  Neither Roberts, LaBruno nor Bergen signed off on the settlement, but James' complaint was dismissed against them as part of the settlement.

The case is captioned James v. Hoboken, Docket No. HUD-L-1961-10 and James' attorney was Robert M. Anderson of Allenhurst.  Case documents are on-line here.


None of James' allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $99,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Hoboken or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Hoboken or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay James $99,000 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, November 14, 2013

Hudson Sheriff's Department pays $180,000 to settle employee's whistleblower and discrimination suit

On August 2, 2013, the County of Hudson, on behalf of the Hudson County Sheriff's Department agreed to pay $180,000 to 56-year-old female Sheriff's Officer who has been employed by the Department since 1985.

In her suit, Rosemary Frank said that her superiors harassed, retaliated and discriminated against her due to her settling a separate lawsuit in the mid-1990's in which she claimed that he was sexually harassed in the workplace.  She claimed that after she was prevented from becoming a sergeant, she was told by a lieutenant that "she would never be promoted because of her previous lawsuit."  Frank also claimed that despite having seniority, she was forced to take the night shift by Lieutenant Gary Reibesell who allegedly threatened her with a transfer if she refused to take the shift.

She made several other allegations of discriminatory treatment at the hands of Reibesell "which resulted in her hospitalization due to the stress of the situation."  She also said that a Sergeant Webber, while leading a hostile work environment training seminar encouraged an officer to read a passage aloud from the manual "in a manner that mocked gay people."

The case is captioned Frank v. Hudson, Docket No. HUD-L-539-10 and Frank's attorney was Charles J. Sciarra of Clifton.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Frank'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 Hudson or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Hudson or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Frank $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.

State pays $6,000 to settle police improper detention/assault suit

On June 14, 2013, the State of New Jersey agreed to pay $6,000 to a Newark man who sued members of the New Jersey State Police for allegedly assaulting him, macing him and arresting him without probable cause.

In his suit, Salah Williams said that on January 29, 2008, he was walking near his carpet store in Newark when he was detained without cause by Troopers Gerald Dellagicoma and David Valente.  He claimed that the Troopers "proceeded to physically assault [him] and maced him for no reason at all."  He also claimed that in order to cover up their improper acts, the Troopers, along with Supervising Trooper Dennis White, "conspired together and filed false criminal charges against" him which were ultimately dismissed.

The case is captioned Williams v. State, Federal Case No. 2:10-cv-03478 and Williams's attorney was Randy P. Davenport of Newark.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Williams's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $6,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by State or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that State or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Williams $6,000 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 8, 2013

Buena pays $250,000 to settle police officer's discrimination/harassment suit

On October 22, 2013, the Borough of Buena (Atlantic County) agreed to pay $250,000 to a Hispanic police officer who claimed that officials in the Buena police department harassed and created a hostile work environment for him.

In his suit, Ronald Bonilla, who was hired as a patrol officer in 2009, said that it was the policy of the Buena Police Department to target Hispanic drivers.  Bonilla claimed that he was the only Hispanic in an otherwise completely Caucasian department.

He claimed that before becoming his direct superior officer, Sergeant Stacey Steudle told him that "she is not a big ticket writer, but if I need to keep my stats up I will find a Mexican and write him ten tickets."  (In December 2009, Steudle settled her own whistleblower lawsuit against the Borough for $375,000--click here.) 

Bonilla claimed that the police management, including Chief David P. Sherma, had "a discriminatory bias against minorities."  When Bonilla complained to Sherma about the racial profiling, Bonilla said that he became the target of mistreatment and harassment by the other officers.  Specifically, he claims that he was not backed up by other officers, was falsely charged with not backing up other officers and that Steudle would repeatedly belittle him and cover up a Puerto Rican flag that he had put on his locker.  When he was performing desk duty, he was harassed by a picture of "a dog scooping up a pile of dog waste" and la bled "our new employee" that was placed directly in front of his desk.

The case is captioned Bonilla v. Buena, Federal Case No. 1:11-cv-05412 and Bonilla's attorney was Adam J. Kleinfeldt of Newark.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Bonilla's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $250,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Buena or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Buena or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Bonilla $250,000 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, October 1, 2013

Ocean Gate pays $23,000 to settle police false arrest/excessive force suit

On September 4, 2013, the Borough of Ocean Gate (Ocean County) agreed to pay $23,000 to a local man who sued members of the Ocean Gate Police Department for allegedly arresting him without probable cause and applying handcuffs too tightly.

In his suit, Sean Hosey said he had a graduation ceremony for his son at his home on June 25, 2010.  Since fireworks were ignited, police officers Kevin Frizziola, Andrew Welsh and George Kempker were dispatched.  He claimed that the officers were "specifically rude" toward 15-year old daughter and wife Dorothy Hosey, who joined him as co-plaintiff in the suit.  When he "got out of his to calm his wife down" Hosey claimed that he was arrested without justification by the officers.  He claimed that the officers "applied inordinate pressure" in handcuffing him and refused to loosen the cuffs despite his complaints. 

Also named in the suit were Ocean Gate Police Chief Reese J. Fisher.

The case is captioned Hosey v. Ocean Gate, Federal Case No. 3:12-cv-03731 and Hosey'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 Hosey's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $23,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Ocean Gate or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Ocean Gate or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Hosey $23,000 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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Asbury Park pays $25,000 to settle police illegal search suit

On February 15, 2008, the City of Asbury Park (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $25,000 to three local residents who sued members of the Asbury Park Police Department for allegedly searching their home without a warrant.

In their suit, Sterling Shaw, Ivory Shaw and Tammy Thompson said that on April 12, 2005 Asbury Park Police Officers David DeSane, Brian Townsend, Daniel Kowsaluk, Gregory Kochman, Marvin Terry and J. Campos entered their home without a warrant and conducted a search.  They claim that "the search was conducted in a threatening and abusive manner, during which defendants, made lewd sexual threats and verbally assaulted and abused" them.  They further claim that the police found nothing incriminating and that no charges were filed as a result of the search.

Also named in the suit was Asbury Park City Manager Terence J. Reidy.

The case is captioned the Sterling Shaw, Ivory Shaw and Tammy Thompson v. Asbury Park, Federal Case No. 3:06-6-00509 and the Shaws' and Thompson's attorney was John D. Feeley of South Orange.  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 the Shaws' and Thompson's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Asbury Park or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Asbury Park or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the Shaws and Thompson $25,000 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, September 27, 2013

Parsippany-Troy Hills pays $10,000 to settle patrolman's suit filed in 2003

On July 24, 2013, the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills (Morris County) agreed to pay $10,000 to a former police officer who sued the Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department for allegedly wrongfully terminating and creating a hostile work environment for him.

In his suit, Michael Jasiecki described the Department as "a large but closely-knit law enforcement agency and loyalty to the Chief [Michael Filippello] and his allies is demanded if an officer wishes to progress up the promotional ladder."

Jasiecki's lawsuit, which is available at the link below, contains too many details to summarize here.  Suffice it to say that Jasiecki believed that he was victimized because he did not show properly loyalty during a criminal investigation into former Mayor Frank Priore.

Also named in the suit were Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor Marceil Lettsa and Police Captain Anthony DeZenzo.

The case is captioned Jasiecki v. Parsippany-Troy Hills, Federal Case No. 3:03-cv-03865-PGS-DEA and Jasiecki's attorney was Gina Mendola Longarzo of Florham Park.  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 Jasiecki'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 Parsippany-Troy Hills or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Parsippany-Troy Hills or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Jasiecki $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.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Millville pays $20,000 to settle police false arrest/excessive force suit

On June 24, 2013, the City of Millville (Cumberland County) agreed to pay $20,000 to a local woman who sued members of the Millville Police Department for allegedly beating her and arresting her without probable cause.

In her suit, Charnette Holmes said that on July 3, 2008, she was at her home when she heard her niece and another woman having a loud argument outside.  She said that she intervened in the argument and succeeded in getting her niece to go into the house and for the other woman to leave the premises.

Brian Cushner and another officer arrived at the scene while the other woman, who Holmes felt was the person who had caused the incident, was leaving in a car.  She said that she said "excuse me" to Cushner and when Cushner ignored her she approached him "and touched his arm."  Cushner allegedly said "don't f---ing touch me, don't touch a police officer" and Holmes said that she tried to explain that he was letting the perpetrator get away.

According to Holmes, Cushner then placed her under arrest, handcuffed her and sprayed mace in her face while both hands were behind her back.  When she acted defensively to the mace, Cushner allegedly "slammed her to the ground with great force."  He and other officers allegedly later said "you people are gonna learn."  She alleges that she spent the night in jail and was then treated for injuries to her ear and eye.

The case is captioned Holmes v. Millville, Federal Case No. 1:10-cv-5384 and Holmes's attorney was Louis Charles Shapiro of Vineland.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Holmes'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 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 Holmes $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.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Seaside Heights pays $25,000 to settle police assault suit

On July 1, 2013, the Borough of Seaside Heights (Ocean County) agreed to pay $25,000 to a Toms River man who sued members of the Seaside Heights Police Department for assaulting him. 

In his suit, Garyvens Joseph said that on September 19, 2010, he was at a boardwalk amusement park eating ice cream with his son and waiting for his fiance when a woman accused him of "looking at her friend." After denying that he was looking at her friend, he claimed he walked away and put his son on an amusement ride.

Afterwards, Patrolmen Joseph Provaznik and Matthew Meyler allegedly approached him and asked him to leave the park.  When he told the officers that he could not leave the park while his son was still on the ride, the two officers allegedly assaulted him, called him a f***ing n***er and arrested him for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Also named in the suit were Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd, Detective Stephen Korman, Lieutenant Jon Lombardi and Sergeant James Hans.

The case is captioned Joseph v. Seaside Heights, Federal Case No. 3:11-cv-01599 Joseph'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 Joseph's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Seaside Heights or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Seaside Heights or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Joseph $25,000 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.

Seaside Heights pays $20,000 to settle police assault suit

On July 1, 2013, the Borough of Seaside Heights (Ocean County) agreed to pay $20,000 to a Toms River man who sued members of the Seaside Heights Police Department for assaulting him. 

In his suit, James Monahan said that on January 7, 2012, he was arrested at the Bamboo Bar and then taken to the Seaside Heights Police Department where he assaulted with excessive force and without justification Patrolmen Ryan Dunne and Brian McLaughlin.

Also named in the suit were Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd, Detective Stephen Korman and Sergeants James Hans and Richard Roemmele.

The case is captioned Monahan v. Seaside Heights, Federal Case No. 3:12-cv-04699 Monahan'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 Monahan'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 Seaside Heights or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Seaside Heights or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Monahan $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.

Seaside Heights pays $25,000 to settle police assault suit

On July 15, 2013, the Borough of Seaside Heights (Ocean County) agreed to pay $25,000 to a Bronx, New York who sued members of the Seaside Heights Police Department for assaulting him. 

In his suit, Edward Clark said that on May 29, 2011, he was assaulted with excessive force and without justification at the Seaside Heights Police Department by Sergeant Richard Roemmele and Patrolman William Isetts. 

Also named in the suit were Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd, Detective Stephen Korman and Sergeant James Hans.

The case is captioned Clark v. Seaside Heights, Federal Case No. 3:12-cv-03760 Clark'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 Clark's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Seaside Heights or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Seaside Heights or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Clark $25,000 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.

Seaside Heights pays $25,000 to settle police excessive force suit

On July 2, 2013, the Borough of Seaside Heights (Ocean County) agreed to pay $25,000 to a Howell woman who sued members of the Seaside Heights Police Department for assaulting her, taunting her and spraying her with OC spray. 

In her suit, Sabrina Jarmolinski said that on August 14, 2011, she was sitting on a boardwalk bench with four friends when she encountered Patrolman Justin Heffernan.  She claims that Heffernan cursed and screamed at her and her friends, telling them that they have to "f***ing leave" or that they would be "f***ing arrested."  When Jarmolinski informed Heffernan that she was a Criminal Justice major and wanted to know why Heffernan was cursing at her and her friends, Heffernan allegedly grabbed her by the neck, threw her down and put his knee into her back.  Jarmolinski claimed that Heffernan then sprayed her with OC spray while she was on the ground and in handcuffs and whispered in her ear "How does that feel, Criminal Justice major?"

Also named in the suit were Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd, Detective Stephen Korman and Sergeants James Hans and Richard Roemmele and Patrolman John Roth.

The case is captioned Jarmolinski v. Seaside Heights, 3:12-cv-05529 and Jarmolinski'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 Jarmolinski's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Seaside Heights or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Seaside Heights or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Jarmolinski $25,000 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.

Seaside Heights pays $25,000 to settle police excessive force suit

On April 18, 2013, the Borough of Seaside Heights (Ocean County) agreed to pay $25,000 to a Bayville man who sued members of the Seaside Heights Police Department for assaulting and applying excessive force upon him.

In his suit, Dennis Clay said that on July 18, 2009, he was walking to his car when "assaulted" by Seaside Heights Sergeant Richard Roemmele and Patrolmen Joseph Regan, John Clarizio, Richard Sasso and [no first name given] Bellavance. While being transported in a police van, Clay claims that the driver purposefully applied the brakes causing "his body to hit the interior of the vehicle."

Also named in the suit were Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd, Detective Stephen Korman and Sergeant James Hans.

The case is captioned Clay v. Seaside Heights, 3:11-cv-00924 and Clay'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 Clay's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Seaside Heights or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Seaside Heights or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Clay $25,000 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, August 29, 2013

Union City pays $80,000 to settle police assault case

On October 10, 2012, the City of Union City (Hudson County) agreed to pay $80,000 to a man who sued members of the Union City Police Department for allegedly assaulting him after taking him into custody for violating the City's curfew ordinance.

In his suit, Diego Diaz, through his mother, Maria Lopez, said that at 3:43 a.m. on February 6, 2010, while he was 15 years old, he was taken into custody by Union City Police for violating the municipal juvenile curfew ordinance.  He claimed that while in custody, he "engaged in a verbal altercation with Officer Corey Corbo which resulted in Corbo assaulting him.  He also claimed that Officer David Chasmer assisted Corbo in the assault.

The case is captioned Diaz v. Union City, Federal Case No. 11-2365 and Diaz's attorney was Nathaniel M. Davis of Newark.  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 Diaz's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $80,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Union City or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Union City or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Diaz $80,000 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.

Greystone Hospital pays $425,000 to settle patient's claim that she was violently assaulted by another patient.

On July 16, 2013, the State of New Jersey, on behalf of Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, agreed to pay $425,000 to a Lake Hopatcong woman who claimed that she was brutally assaulted during her involuntary commitment there.

In her suit, Desiree Torusio, who was formerly known as Desiree Lines, said that on December 18, 2008, a court declared her a danger to herself and others and committed her to Greystone.  She alleges that in January 2009, she was placed in a a unit with Horace White, who had a "history of violent criminal activity, including armed robbery, aggravated assault of a police officer, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes." 

According to the suit, White was a Krol patient, i.e. one who was acquitted of criminal offenses by reason of insanity and deemed a danger to themselves or others.  His propensity toward violence was allegedly well known to Greystone's staff and Torusio claimed that White, who is African-American, used to walk up and down the hallway screaming that he was "going to kill all white people" and that "all white women are bitches who should be raped and killed." 

Prior to the assault, Torusio claimed that she told hospital staff that she was afraid of White and that she and fellow patients submitted a petition seeking to have White transferred. Despite these efforts, hospital staff allegedly told Torusio to "stay away from White" but they did put White under closer supervision.

On February 5, 2009, White was supposed to be under "one-to-one arm's length monitoring" by staff member Linda Wright who, according to the suit, had previously been suspended for five days without pay "for abandoning a one-to-one monitoring assignment in 2008."  Wright allegedly left White unmonitored in the cafeteria while she took a personal call on her cell phone.  During Wright's absence, White, who is 100 pounds heavier and foot taller than Torusio, allegedly started an incident with her that resulted in him punching her in the face and head "causing multiple fractures and other severe damage to the right side of her face and to her right eye."  Torusio claimed that she was hospitalized for four days and underwent a six hours trauma surgery.

After her release from the hospital, Torusio said that she was, over her objections, placed back in the same unit as White.  There, she was allegedly taunted and harassed by the other patients and White reportedly threatened "Keep it up and I'll get the other eye."  She claimed that her injuries caused her to undergo four reconstructive and rehabilitative surgeries on her eye and face.

Linda Wright was named in the suit along with Greystone Executive Officer Janet Monroe, Clinical Psychologist Denise Paulson and Olufunmila Ojediran, the Section Chief who directly supervised Wright.

The case is captioned Torusio v. Monroe, et al, Federal Case No. 2:11-cv-00452 and Torusio's attorneys were Paul G. Hunczak, Todd M. Hooker and Douglas C. Gray of Newton.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Torusio's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $425,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Greystone or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Greystone or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Torusio $425,000 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.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Denville pays $400,000 to settle police fatal shooting suit

On June 10, 2013, the Township of Denville (Morris County) agreed to pay $400,000 to the estate of a 21-year-old man who was fatally shot in 2008 by Township police.

In its suit, the Estate of Reuben W. Martinez, II claimed that Martinez was pulled over for speeding by Patrolmen Richard Byrne and Daniel Fernandez on June 26, 2008.  Byrne allegedly jumped into the passenger seat of Martinez's car with his weapon drawn after Martinez refused to obey verbal commands.  At the same time, Fernandez allegedly grabbed Martinez's head through the driver window and "bashed it repeatedly on the door frame."  This caused Martinez to put the car in gear and drive away while Byrne was still in the car.  According to the lawsuit, "[u]ltimately Officer Byrne shot plaintiff's decedent Martinez multiple times after Martinez failed to stop the car."

Also named in the suit were Denville Police Chief Christopher Wagner.

The case is captioned Miles v. Denville, Federal Case No. 2:10-cv-0310 and Martinez's attorney was Shelley L. Stangler of Springfield.  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 Martinez's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $400,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Denville or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Denville or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Martinez $400,000 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.

Union City pays $25,000 to settle police false arrest suit

On October 30, 2012, the City of Union City (Hudson County) agreed to pay $25,000 to a local man who sued members of the Union City Police Department for arresting him for drunk driving despite there being no evidence that he was driving.

In his suit, Estaban Castro said that on November 9, 2009, after having an argument with his girlfriend, he went outside to sit in his car "to defuse the situation."  He alleged that after having slept in his car for two and a half hours, he was awoken by Union City Police who arrested him for drunk driving despite Castro's explanation that he had not driven the car.

Castro's suit alleged that the Union City Police are not adequately trained to conduct drunk driving investigations, and that this lack of training resulted in his false arrest.

The case is captioned Castro v. Union City, Federal Case No. 2:09-cv-06176 and Castro's attorney was Louis A. Zayas of Newark.  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 Castro's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Union City or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Union City or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Castro $25,000 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, August 23, 2013

Gloucester Township pays $167,765.38 to settle police false arrest/excessive force suit

On July 12, 2013, the Township of Gloucester (Camden County) agreed to pay $167,765.38 to two roommates who sued members of the Gloucester Township Police Department for allegedly entering their home without a warrant, falsely charging and beating them.

In their suit, Marc Pizzo and Jamie Slimm said that on October 17, 2010, Slimm had called the Gloucester Township Police Department's non-emergency number to make an inquiry "regarding Pizzo including but not limited to the status of a past citation."  This call allegedly caused Sergeant Mark Benton and Police Officers Dwayne Pietzsch and Paul Bertini to respond. 

Upon arrival, the officers allegedly demanded entry and broke down the front door after Slimm had told them that they were not needed and while she was on the telephone with an attorney.  Slimm alleges that the police officers ordered her to lie on the floor where they "used unnecessary force against her" and charged her with "false and unsustainable criminal charges."  Pizzo claims that the officers "repeatedly and aggressively struck [him] with their legs and arms" and carried him out of the home handcuffed "while he could barely walk and was going in and out of consciousness."

Of the settlement amount, Slimm received $10,000 and Pizzo received $62,234.62 with the remainder going to their attorney.

The cases are captioned Pizzo v. Gloucester and Slimm v. Gloucester, Federal Case Nos. 1:11-cv-00673 and 1:11-cv-06207 and Pizzo and Slimm's attorney was Ari R. Karpf of Bensalem, PA. 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 Pizzo's or Slimm's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $167,765.38 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 Pizzo and Slimm $167,765.38 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, August 15, 2013

Bayonne pays $16,000 to settle police false arrest/excessive force suit

On July 30, 2012, the City of Bayonne (Hudson County) agreed to pay $16,000 to a couple who sued a Bayonne Police Detective for allegedly beating the husband and arresting him without probable cause.

In their suit, Stan and Barbara Kabrt said that on December 17, 2008, Barbara was involved in an automobile accident with the wife of Hoboken Police Detective David Macri.  According to the complaint, Macri's wife summoned Macri to the accident scene at which time Detective Macri "became agitated" and arrested Stan "for a disorderly persons offense and resisting arrest."  Macri allegedly "slammed [Stan's] head into the police vehicle."  The couple claims that Stan, who "is partially disabled on the left side of his body" suffered injury and was found not guilty on all charges.

The case is captioned Kabrt v. Bayonne, Federal Case No. 2:11-cv-02849 and the Kabrts' attorney was Karen F. DeSoto of Pluckamin.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of the Kabrts' allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $16,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Bayonne or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Bayonne or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the Kabrts $16,000 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, August 2, 2013

Paterson pays $200,000 to settle police false arrest/excessive force suit

On July 9, 2013, the City of Paterson (Passaic County) agreed to pay $200,000 to a local woman who sued members of the Paterson Police Department for allegedly beating her and arresting her without probable cause.

In her suit, Linette Vazquez said that in the early morning hours of March 15, 2011 she and three friends were at the Egg Platter Diner when Paterson Police Officers Andre Jackson, Michael Avila and Michael Mezey were sitting in the next booth. She claims that even though she did nothing to provoke them, the officers "began slurring sexually explicit, degrading, and sexist epithets" as well as "profane, abusive, and threatening language" toward her. 

According to the lawsuit, Officer Juan C. Rodriguez came to the diner and threatened to arrest Vazquez without reason.  She claims that she was ultimately arrested "without probable cause" and, which at the police station, "was repeatedly struck, beaten and choked" by Officer Avila.

Also named in the suit were Paterson Police Chief James F. Wittig and Sergeant A. Grovato.

The case is captioned Vazquez v. Paterson, Federal Case No. 13-433 (WJH) and Vazquez's attorney was Nancy E. Lucianna of Fort Lee.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Vazquez's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $200,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Paterson or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Paterson or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Vazquez $200,000 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. Ther is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Cumberland County pays $650,000 to settle inmate beating death suit

On July 11, 2013, the County of Cumberland agreed to pay $650,000 to the estate and heirs of a Vineland man who the heirs claim was beaten to death in the Cumberland County Jail on January 1, 2008.

In its suit, the Estate of Steven Charles Bell said that on December 31, 2007 Bell was arrested after an "apparent domestic altercation."  According to the complaint, he was "alive and healthy" when admitted to the jail but was found "unconcious and unresponsive" in his cell at about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 1, 2008.  The estate claims that he "had severe head injuries consistent with being viciously and brutally beaten."

The estate claims that prison officials "unreasonably delayed in calling 911" and that when paramedics finally arrived, Bell "was near death."  He died in a hospital on January 10, 2008.  According to the suit, the Medical Examiner determined his death to be a homicide.

Also named in the suit was CFG Health Systems, LLC, jail warden Glenn Saunders and jail official Kenneth Lamcken.

The case is captioned Bell v. Cumberland County, Federal Case No. 1:09-cv-0648 and the estate's attorney was Nancy J. Winkler of Cherry Hill.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of the estate's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $650,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Cumberland or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Cumberland or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the estate $650,000 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, August 1, 2013

Lavallette pays $7,500 to settle police false arrest suit

On June 7, 2012, the Borough of Lavallette (Ocean County) agreed to pay $7,500 to a Chester husband and wife who sued members of the Lavallette Police Department for allegedly arresting the husband without probable cause.

In their suit, Michael and Ann Cotalo said that Michael was "accosted" by Lavallette Police Sergeant Jon Andrews and Officer Russell Charles on July 25, 2009.  He claims that the officers arrested him without probable cause.  The apparent charge against Cotalo was under the Borough's "Loud and Unusual Noise" ordinance, which Cotalo claimed was unconstitutional.  The couple also alleged that Andrews and Charles seized a juvenile who was staying with them without probable cause.

The case is captioned Cotalo v. Lavallette, Federal Case No. 11-cv-3449 and Cotalo's attorney was Craig V. O'Connor of Morristown.  Case documents are on-line here

None of the Cotalos' 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 Lavallette or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Lavallette or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the Cotalos $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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pleasantville pays $45,000 to settle police false arrest suit

On March 22, 2013, the City of Pleasantville (Atlantic County) agreed to pay $45,000 to a Vineland man who sued members of the Pleasantville Police Department for allegedly arresting him without probable cause and continuing to prosecute him even after they knew he wasn't guilty.

In his suit, Tyrone Mozelle said that on August 4, 2010, he was visiting his elderly parents when someone had entered a neighboring apartment and stole $70.  He claims that even though a surveillance video "clearly undermines" any accusation that he was the thief, Pleasantville police arrested him for 3rd Degree Burglary and held him under $25,000 bail.  Unable to post bail, Mozelle claimed that he was held in jail for six months.  He stated that even though the police knew better, they "intentionally made misstatements in their reports" and "persisted in the prosecution" of him. According to the lawsuit, the court ultimately dismissed all charges against him.

Named in the suit were Pleasantville Police Chief Duane N. Comeaux, Mayor Jesse L. Tweedle, Sr., Detective Steven V. Sample and Patrolmen Charlie L. Ellis, Michael Gazo and Norman Dennis.

The case is captioned Mozelle v. Pleasantville, Federal Case No. 12-cv-01700 and Mozelle's attorney was Reza Mazaheri of New York.  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 Mozelle's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $45,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Pleasantville or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Pleasantville or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Mozelle $45,000 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 24, 2013

Plainfield and Fanwood pay $103,000 to settle civil rights suit filed by former Plainfield judge.

In early 2012, the City of Plainfield and Borough of Fanwood (Union County) agreed to pay $103,000 to a former municipal court judge who claimed her civil rights were violated.  Plainfield paid $100,000 and Fanwood paid $3,000.

In her suit, Paulette Brown said that on November 12, 2006, she was arrested by police in Fanwood for a warrant that was erroneously issued on June 6, 2001 by the Plainfield Municipal Court.  Brown claims that the warrant arose out of a criminal trespass matter that had been dismissed on September 22, 1997.  She further claims that she was never notified that the warrant had issued.

Even though she claimed that the warrant was invalid, the arresting office, named Santiago, allegedly "pulled [her] from her vehicle and transported her to the Fanwood police station where she was photographed and processed."  She further claims to have been held at the station for several hours and that Plainfield gave her a difficult time recalling the warrant even though court personnel had admitted that the warrant was invalid.

The case is captioned Brown v. Plainfield, Union County Superior Court Docket No. UNN-L-3943-08 and Brown's attorney was Michael A. Armstrong of Willingboro.  Case documents are on-line here.

Fanwood's 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 Brown's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $103,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Plainfield, Fanwood or any of their officials. All that is known for sure is that Plainfield and Fanwood, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Brown $103,000 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, July 19, 2013

Ocean City pays $60,000 to settle police dog bite case.

On April 19, 2013, the City of Ocean City (Cape May County) agreed to pay $60,000 to a local man who sued members of the Ocean City Police Department for allegedly having a police dog unnecessarily bite him in the groin.

In his suit, Jeffrey Moyer said that on September 3, 2009, Sergeant John Mazzuca and Officer John Vogt brought their police canine, Deuce, to his home on a reported disturbance.  Moyer claimed that even though he had no weapons and was not acting in a violent or threatening manner, Deuce was turned loose on him and bit him in the groin causing "severe injury."

The case is captioned Moyer v. Ocean City, Cape May Superior Court Docket No. L-773-10 and Moyer'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 Moyer's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $60,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Ocean City or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Ocean City or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Moyer $60,000 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, July 16, 2013

North Bergen school board pays $7,500 to settle wrongful discharge suit

On November 23, 2011, the Board of Education of North Bergen (Hudson County) agreed to pay $7,500 to a local man who sued the school board for firing him and his girlfriend in order to retaliate against his mother

In his suit, Jeffrey Saavedra said he and his girlfriend, Jessica Rivera, were both fired from their jobs because school board officials, specifically Robert M. Kornberg, Katherine Somick and City Councilman Edward Somick, sought to retaliate against his mother, Ivonne Saavedra for complaining about alleged legal violations committed by the school district.

The settlement is with Jeffrey only, even though Ivonne is named as a plaintiff in the suit.  Ivonne was dismissed from this suit and has her own suit under Federal Case No. 2:12-cv-06080.

The case is captioned Saavedra v. North Bergen, Hudson County Superior Court Docket No. L-6014-09 and Saavedra's attorney was Maurice W. McLaughlin of Totowa.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Saavedra'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 North Bergen or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that North Bergen or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Saavedra $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.

Voorhees pays $60,000 to settle police false arrest/malicious prosecution suit

On June 15, 2011, the Township of Voorhees (Camden County) agreed to pay $60,000 to a local man who sued members of the Voorhees Police Department for allegedly arresting him without probable cause because he "needed an education."

In his suit, Michael Sebastian, Jr. said that on June 12, 2007, the day after he was arrested for contempt of court after having been found guilty of a traffic violation, he needed police assistance regarding an attempted burglary at his home.  The officers who responded, Carlos Garcia-Lazar and Anthony Rusterucci, questioned him as to what he would do if he found an intruder in his home.  After Sebastian responded that he would use all necessary force, including deadly force, the officers allegedly told him that use of force wouldn't be appropriate if the intruder was a police officer serving a warrant.  Sebastian said that he explained to the officers that he did not mean that he would use force against an officer, rather that he understood the question to be limited to illegal, unidentified intruders.

According to the complaint, the two officers consulted with Lieutenant Francis Bialeki and Sergeant Robert Woolston who caused a warrant to be issued charging Sebastian with "making a terroristic threat to kill a township official."  Thereafter, about a dozen police officers came to Sebastian's home, arrested him and took him to the police station where he was allegedly denied access to an attorney and detained and questioned for five hours.  Sebastian claimed that Officer Richard Monahan told him that that the arrest was precipitated by his actions in the municipal court the previous day.

Monahan alleged that the Camden County Prosecutor's Office declined to indict him for the terroristic threats charge and that the matter was returned to municipal court for disposition.  The municipal court ultimately dismissed the charges after police officers failed to appear to testify on the State's behalf.

Also named in the suit were Voorhees Police Officers Daniel Starks and Lance Klein.

The case is captioned Sebastian v. Voorhees, Federal Case No. 1:08-cv-06097 and Sebastian's attorney was William H. Buckman of Moorestown.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Sebastian's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $60,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Voorhees or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Voorhees or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Sebastian $60,000 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 10, 2013

Fairfield pays $72,500 to settle racial harassment lawsuit

On October 29, 2010, the Township of Fairfield (Cumberland County) agreed to pay $72,500 to a African-American man who sued Fairfield Township for allegedly wrongfully discharging him from Township employment.

In his suit, Wayne Thomas Byrd, who had been employed by the Township since 2004, said that he had been consistently harassed, belittled and called racial slurs by co-worker William Ridgeway who Byrd claimed to be "very well politically connected and . . . good friends with the [then] business administrator of the township, one Richard DeVillasanta."

Byrd said that he suffered a heart attack in May 2007 and returned to work on September 8, 2008, after a long period of recovery.  When he returned to work, he claimed he was only on the job for an hour and a half before being told to leave.  Being told to leave, according to the complaint, "effectuated a discharge for all practical purposes."

Byrd claims that he repeatedly complained about Ridgeway to Nathan Dunn, his supervisor, and then mayor Marion Kennedy, Jr., but they would only "talk to Ridgeway" which would cause him to "soften his harassment for a short period of time."

The case is captioned Byrd v. Fairfield, Cumberland County Superior Court Docket No. CUM-L-1027-08 and Byrd's attorney was Kevin M. Costello of Cherry Hill.  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 Byrd's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $72,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Fairfield or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Fairfield or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Byrd $72,500 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.

NJ Department of Human Services pays $10,000 to settle whistleblower suit

On January 31, 2012, the New Jersey Department of Human Services agreed to pay $10,000 to a Millville woman who sued the Vineland Developmental Center for allegedly retaliating against her after she reported "patient abuse and neglect."

In her suit, Yolanda Howard said that during 2009, she reported various rule infractions to her supervisors.  Her reporting, she claims, resulted in "a barrage of retaliatory and harassing actions [including] a brief period of unemployment from March 6, 2009 through April 11, 2009."

The case is captioned Howard v. State of New Jersey, Cumberland County Superior Court Docket No. CUM-L-256-10 and Howard's attorney was Alan J. Cohen of Northfield.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Howard'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 Human Services or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Human Services or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Howard $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.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

High Bridge pays $81,250 to settle police excessive force suit

On October 28, 2011, the Borough of High Bridge (Hunterdon County) agreed to pay $81,250 to a local woman who sued an officer of the High Bridge Police Department for allegedly applying excessive for upon her.

In her suit, Barbara L. Drake of Sunset Drive said that on August 30, 2006, she received a knock on her door by Police Officer Jeffrey P. Andruczyk who was dispatched to investigate a pile of brush at the end of her driveway.  After explaining to Andruczyk that the pile would be removed the next day, Drake alleged that Andruczyk became increasing angry with her, intimidated her into allowing him into her house, demanded identification and then arrested her for obstruction of justice and resisting arrest.  During the arrest, Andruczyk allegedly roughed up Drake and "slammed her head several times against the [kitchen] countertop."  She further alleged that High Bridge Police Chief Edward K. Spinks arrived at the scene but did nothing to intervene.  According to the lawsuit, Drake was ultimately acquitted of all charges.

The case is captioned Drake v. Andruczyk, Federal Case No. 3:08-cv-04249 and Drake's attorney was Timothy J. Jaeger of Somerville.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Drake's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $81,250 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by High Bridge or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that High Bridge or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Drake $81,250 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, July 8, 2013

NJ State Police pay $42,000 to settle false arrest lawsuit

On April 30, 2013, the State of New Jersey agreed to pay $42,000 to two brothers who sued two State Troopers for falsely arresting them and depriving one of them of his prescription medication.

In their suit, Kevin and Robert Menke of Mohrsville, Pennsylvania said that on June 13, 2008 they were at a convenience store in Brigantine with their vehicle parked next to an unmarked SUV occupied by State Troopers Michael Baker and Michael Stonnell, who were both in civilian clothing.

While Kevin was in the store, Robert, who was sitting in the car, was allegedly accused by the Troopers of "looking" at Baker.  The brothers allege that when Kevin came out of the store, the argument was still going on with neither brother knowing that Baker and Stonnell were police officers.  As the brothers were attempting to exit the parking lot in their vehicle, Baker and Stonnell allegedly continued to harass them and questioned them about whether they were selling drugs.

At this point, the brothers got out of their vehicle and approached the SUV.  When Kevin asked Baker and Stonnell whether they were police officers, Baker allegedly showed his handgun to him.  Upon seeing the gun, and still not realizing that the men were police officers, Robert called 911 on his cell phone. While placing the call, Robert claims that Stonnell pointed his gun at him and arrested him.

The Troopers allegedly confiscated Kevin's medication and wouldn't return it to him despite being told that he needed to take it to stay well.  Kevin allegedly told the Troopers that they could call his physician who would confirm that it was critical for him to take his medication.  According to the complaint, the Troopers would not call the physician resulting in Kevin becoming ill and being taken to the hospital.  At this point, the Troopers finally contacted the physician who confirmed that the medication was necessary to prevent Kevin from experiencing serious discomfort.

Baker and Stonnell charged the brothers with disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance.  All charges were dropped except that Kevin pled guilty to a municipal ordinance violation.

Also named in the suit was the City of Brigantine which was later dismissed from the suit.

The case is captioned Kevin and Robert Menke v. Michael Baker et al, Federal Case No. 1:10-cv-02585 and the Menkes' attorney was Anthony M. Anastasio of Lawrenceville.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Menkes' allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $42,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by State of New Jersey or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that State of New Jersey or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the brothers $42,000 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, June 20, 2013

Howell pays $125,000 to settle hostile work environment/wrongful discharge suit

On June 4, 2013, the Township of Howell (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $125,000 to a Waretown woman who sued the Howell Police Department for harassing her, creating a hostile work environment and constructively discharging her. In addition, Howell settled the woman's workers compensation claim for $25,000.

In her suit, Mary Lenahan, a 13-year Howell employee who served as a police dispatcher,  said that fellow dispatcher Christine Jakowski would undermine and make derogatory comments about Lenahan's competence.  Lenahan also accused Jakowski of making a racial comment and would "place several guns on her desk" for no other reason than to harass Lenahan.  She further alleges that her complaints resulted in a "bad faith investigation" and Jakowski retaliated against her.

The case is captioned Lenahan v. Howell Police Department, Superior Court Docket No. MON-L-3456-11 and Lenahan's attorney was Gary S. Shapiro of Englishtown.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Lenahan'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 Howell or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Howell or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Lenahan $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, June 7, 2013

Warren County pays $90,000 to settle whistleblower suit

On April 29, 2013, the County of Warren agreed to pay $90,000 to a Department of Human Services employee who claimed that she was retaliated against because she reported misconduct to County officials.

In her suit, Barbara Kahler, an employee of the Department's Division of Temporary Assistance and Social Services ("TASS"), alleged various improprieties against TASS Director Lorraine Scheibener and Sharon Ciavarella, Kahler's direct supervisor. 

Among the allegations is that an unnamed supervisor asked Kahler to "bring a narcotic medication to work for [that] supervisor." When Kahler reported this incident to Scheibener, Scheibener allegedly told her to "pretend the incident never happened as the supervisor could lose her job."

Kahler also alleges that she was told by Ciavarella to backdate several food stamp benefits applications.  She claims that after she rebuffed Ciavarella's demand, she received an "increased workload" and was otherwise retaliated against.

Kahler also alleges that she reported to both Ciavarella and Scheibener that "various co-workers were arriving to work late, leaving work early, taking long lunches and otherwise not performing their assigned tasks during prescribed work hours."  According to the lawsuit, Ciavarella and Scheibener told Kahler's co-workers about her reports, causing them to "create a hostile work environment." 

Also named in the suit was assistant supervisor Jill Campana.

As part of the settlement, the County agreed to amend Kahler's resignation from "not in good standing" to "in good standing."

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.

The case is captioned Kahler v. County of Warren, Superior Court Docket No. WRN-L-419-11 and Kahler's attorney was John McDonnell of Washington.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Kahler'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 Warren or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Warren or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Kahler $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.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dover pays $75,000 to settle suit for negligence in police chase that resulted in death of 23-year-old motorcyclist

On March 2, 2012, the Town of Dover (Morris County) agreed to pay $75,000 to the mother of a twenty-three year old man who was killed in a motor vehicle collision when he was allegedly fleeting police.

In her suit, Kara Seitz, mother of the late Alan J. Seitz, said that on August 14, 2007, her son, who was operating a motorcycle, was leading police from various municipalities on a high speed chase.  She claims that Dover Police Officer Michael Pier, after hearing about the chase on his radio, disregarded a stop sign and "drove his motor vehicle directly in front of [Seitz's] motorcycle causing the death of [Seitz]."

Also named in the suit was Dover Police Chief Harold Valentine.

The case is captioned Seitz v. Dover Police Officer Michael Pier et al, New Jersey Superior Court, Docket No. MRS-L-2441-09 and Seitz's attorney was George T. Daggett of Sparta.  Case documents are on-line here

None of Seitz'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 Dover or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Dover or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Seitz $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.

Dover pays $185,000 to settle police false arrest/excessive force suit

On September 28, 2011, the Town of Dover (Morris County) agreed to pay $185,000 to a man who sued members of the Dover Police Department for allegedly beating him and arresting him without probable cause.

In his suit, Steven Echevarria said that on April 11, 2008 he was arrested without probable cause by Officers Joe Camacho and Paul Wilkes.  He claimed that after his arrest, Office Camacho removed him from his cell "took him to a back area within the police department where he unlawfully and physically assaulted" Echevarria "inflicting serious personal injuries upon him."

The case is captioned Echevarria v. Camacho, New Jersey Superior Court, Morris County, Docket No. MRS-L-1806-09 and Echevarria's attorney was Joel I. Rachmiel of Springfield.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Echevarria's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $185,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Dover or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Dover or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Echevarria $185,000 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, April 9, 2013

Irvington pays $15,000 to settle police warrantless entry suit

On January 13, 2010, the Township of Irvingon (Essex County) agreed to pay $15,000 to a Clinton Avenue couple who sued the Irvingon Police Department because an officer entered the wife's bedroom without a warrant while she was "undressing and in a state of nakedness."

In their suit, Sandra Holmes-Stuckey and her husband Hazel Stuckey, Jr. said that on July 10, 2009, Officer Rashaan D. Sampson (also spelled "Samson") illegally entered her bedroon and observed her in a state of undress.  Sandra sued for a violation of her constitutional rights and Hazel sued because he was "deprived of his wife's services and consortium."

The case is captioned Holmes-Stuckey v. Irvingon, Federal Case No. 2:11-cv-00018 and Holmes-Stuckey's attorney was Otto J. Scerbo of Jersey City.  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 Holmes-Stuckey's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $15,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Irvingon or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Irvingon or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Holmes-Stuckey and her husband $15,000 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.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Jackson pays $95,000 to settle police excessive force suit

On March 8, 2013, the Township of Jackson (Ocean County) agreed to pay $95,000 to a local man who sued members of the Jackson Police Department for allegedly assaulting and using excessive force against him.

In his suit, Anthony Ball said that on January 27, 2010 he pulled into a WaWa gas station because his car was critically low on fuel.  While moving the traffic cones that blocked his way to the pump, Officer Jeremy Felder ordered him to drive a different path that did not require him to move the traffic cones.  Ball allegedly "explained that his car would run out of gas if he had to drive to the other store entrance."

Upon hearing this, Felder, along with Officers Arthur Salisbury and Kevin Chesney allegedly pushed Ball "onto the concrete parking lot and assaulted him without justification and with excessive force."  Ball also claimed that the officers misrepresented the facts in order to bring false criminal charges against him.

Also named in the suit was Jackson Police Chief Matthew D. Kunz.

The case is captioned Ball v. Jackson, Federal Case No. 3:10-cv-04254 and Ball's attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Ball's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $95,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Jackson or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Jackson or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Ball $95,000 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, March 31, 2013

Paterson pays $25,000 to settle police excessive force suit filed by take-out restaurant owner and son.

On February 13, 2013, the City of Paterson (Passaic County) agreed to pay $25,000 to the owner of a take-out chicken restaurant and son who had claimed Paterson Police used excessive force against them.

In their suit, Ajab Gul, who owns New York Fried Chicken on Rosa Parks Boulevard in Patersonm and his son Sikander Hawa complain about their July 25, 2010 interaction with Paterson Police Officers Wilson Lazu and Robert Hintzen. 

According to the plaintiffs, the police had previously ticketed Gul repeatedly for "maintaining a nuisance" because people would congregate outside his restaurant.  According to Gul and Hawa, Lazu and Hintzen ordered customers out of the restaurant on July 25, 2010 and were set to issue Gul another "maintaining a nuisance" ticket.  Gul claims that instead of issuing the summons, the two officers assaulted him "using excessive and unnecessary force."  Gul claims that the officers took his wallet and left the store with it.

The officers then allegedly assaulted Hawa, who Gul had called for assistance.  Hawa had allegedly questioned the officers on why they kept issuing his father "maintaining a nuisance" tickets.  Hawa claimed that he was "handcuffed roughly" and pushed inside a patrol car.  He was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Obstructing a Governmental Function. Hawa said that the charges were later dismissed.

According to Hawa, Lazu and Hintzen, while driving him to the police station, spoke disparagingly about his national origin, stating "What are you doing here? You shouldn't be in this country."

Also named in the suit was Paterson Police Chief James Wittig.

The case is captioned Hawa and Gul v. Paterson, Federal Case No. 2:12-cv-04494 and Hawa's and Gul's attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Hawa's or Gul's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Paterson or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Paterson or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided to pay Hawa and Gul $25,000 rather 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, March 8, 2013

Seaside Heights pays $75,000 to settle police excessive force suit

On December 20, 2012, the Borough of Seaside Heights (Ocean County) agreed to pay $75,000 to a Somerset County man who sued members of the Seaside Heights Police Department for allegedly beating him.

In his suit, Michael B. Lavelle of Branchburg said that May 16, 2009, he was walking back to a Seaside Heights house that he had rented for prom weekend.  He said that he mistakenly tried to enter another house, apparently believing that it was the one he had rented.  He alleged that Seaside Police Officers Shawn Heckler, Daniel Bloomquist, Kathleen Erdman, Lance DiFabio and Michael McCurdy "utilized excessive force in arresting [him] . . . causing a facial fracture, lacerations and abrasions."  At the time the suit was filed, trespass, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges were pending against Lavelle.

Also named in the suit were Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd, Detective Stephen Korman and Sergeants James Hans and Terrence Farley.

The case is captioned Lavelle v. Seaside Heights, Federal Case No. 3:09-cv-03016 and Lavelle'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 Lavelle'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 Seaside Heights or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Seaside Heights or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Lavelle $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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Jersey pays $162,500 to settle Public Defender's malpractice claim

On January 25, 2013, the State of New Jersey agreed to pay $162,500 to a man who sued the Cape May County Office of Public Defender for legal malpractice.

In his petition to file a late Tort Claim notice, John Rogers he was wrongfully convicted in 1999 for drug trafficking and spent 6 years in state prison.  In 2007, the Appellate Division held that the public defender who represented him court provided him with ineffective legal counsel.  In his petition, Rogers claimed that Erica Smith, Esq. was the attorney who ineffectively represented him at his trial. After the Appellate Division reversed his conviction and remanded the matter for a new trial, Rogers claimed that the trial court dismissed all charges against him.

The Appellate Division's October 23, 2007 decision, which details the ineffective lawyering that Rogers received, is on-line here.

The case is captioned Rogers v. Cape May County Office of the Public Defender, et al, Docket No. CPM-L-480-09 and Rogers' attorney was Joseph C. Grassi of Wildwood.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Rogers's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The  $162,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by New Jersey, Erica Smith or any other official. All that is known for sure is that New Jersey, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Rogers $162,500 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.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lawrence pays $25,250.61 to settle police officer's New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) suit

On May 23, 2012, the Township of Lawrence (Mercer County) agreed to pay $25,250.61 to former Township police officer who claimed that the police department refused to promote him to police sergeant due to him being African-American.

In his suit, John Glenn, who has served as a Lawrence Township office for 17 years, alleged that had he been promoted, he would have been the first African-American or other minority to attain the rank of sergeant or above.  According to Glenn's complaint, Lawrence Township's police force of 67 had, as of 2005, only 7 African-American officers. 

As part of the settlement, the Township also agreed to help Glenn obtain a disability pension and retiree medical benefits from the Police and Firemen's Retirement System (PFRS).

The case is captioned Glenn v. Lawrence Township Police Department, Federal Case No. 3:10-cv-03121 and Glenn's attorney was Daniel S. Sweetser of Lawrenceville.  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 Glenn's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,250.61 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Lawrence or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Lawrence or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Glenn $25,250.61 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.