Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bridgeton pays $19,500 to settle lawsuit by woman who was arrested twice for same offense.

On September 18, 2013, the City of Bridgeton (Cumberland County) agreed to pay $19,500 to a local woman who sued the City's police department and municipal court for failing to note in their computer systems that she had already posted bail, causing her to be arrested and processed twice for the same offense.  The Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office, which was also named in the lawsuit, separately paid $3,000 to the woman.

In her suit, Cynthia Izquierdo said that on June 9, 2010, she was arrested by Bridgeton Police Officer Ronald Broomall.  After posting bail, she alleges that her bail was "never been properly docketed in the computer system" causing Broomall to re-arrest her on August 10, 2010 for the "exact same charges for which she was already arrested and processed."  She claimed that after learning of the mistake, Ronald Cuff of the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office and Bridgeton Police Lieutenant James Battavio visited her and acknowledged the error.  She claimed that the charges against her were later dismissed.

The case is captioned Izquierdo v. City of Bridgeton, et al, Superior Court Docket No. CUM-L-516-12 and Izquierdo's attorney was Arthur J. Murray of Vineland.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Izquierdo's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $19,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Bridgeton or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Bridgeton or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Izquierdo $19,500 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.