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.