Monday, November 17, 2014

Hillside pays $450,000 to settle police chief's whistleblower suit

On October 28, 2013, the Township of Hillside (Union County) agreed to pay $450,000 to a its retired police chief who sued the Township and Mayor for allegedly retaliating against him.

In his suit, Robert Quinlan listed a litany of allegations against the Township and Mayor Joseph Menza including Menza's alleged attempt to interfere with a summons issued to a "Christie for Governor" sound truck, Menza's alleged opposition to Quinlan's promotion of an African-American female police officer and Menza's alleged improper involvement in a matter involving the Superintendent of Public Works being "probably drunk" at a Linden tavern with a Township vehicle.

The case is captioned Quinlan v. Hillside, et al, Docket No. UNN-L-618-12 and Quinlan's attorney was Damian Christian Shammas of Morristown.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Quinlan's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $450,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Hillside or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Hillside or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Quinlan $450,000 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.