Friday, November 14, 2014

Howell pays $15,000 to settle police excessive force suit.

On December 10, 2013, the Township of Howell (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $15,000 to a Toms River man who sued a Howell Police Officer for injuring him when he was placed in a squad car.

In his suit, Douglas Kessel, vaguely claims that on January 15, 2009, an officer identified as "John Doe, Badge No. 189" "placed [him] in a the back of a squad car and . . . caused [him] to sustain severe, serious and permanent injuries."

The case is captioned Kessel v. Howell, Docket No. MON-L-2815-10 and Kessel's attorney was Richard B. Stone of Neptune. Case documents are on-line here.

None of the Kessel's 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 Howell or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Howell or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay him $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.