Friday, October 3, 2014

Tuckerton pays $28,500 to settle police excessive force suit. Gag order imposed.

On September 9, 2014, the Borough of Tuckerton (Ocean County) agreed to pay $28,500 to a local man who sued members of the Tuckerton Police Department for allegedly using excessive force against him during a domestic disturbance call.

In his suit, Michael Quintenz said that on April 8, 2010, Tuckerton Officers Joseph Luna, Justin Cherry, John Sanzari and Brian Olsen responded to his home for a domestic disturbance.  Once there, he claims that the officers "assaulted him without justification and with excessive force."  No further details on the type of force or injuries received is disclosed.

Also named in the suit was Tuckerton Police Chief Michael Caputo.  The settlement agreement provides that if the media asks Quintenz about the suit, "he shall simply state that the matter is resolved and dismissed and that he has no further comment."

The case is captioned Quintenz v. Tuckerton, Federal Case No. 3:12-cv-01970 and Quintenz's attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Quintenz's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $28,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Tuckerton or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Tuckerton or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Quintenz $28,500 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.