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.