Saturday, November 8, 2014

Long Branch pays $175,000 to settle police excessive force suit

On July 30, 2014, the City of Long Branch (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $175,000 to an Oceanport man who sued members of the Long Branch Police Department for allegedly applying excessive force upon him.

In his suit, Ralph Mazza said that on May 25, 2012, he was present at his sister's home when she had called police because of unwanted guests at her residence.  He claimed that he "was assaulted without justification and excessive force" by Officers Alfred K. Cistaro and Joseph Kennedy "as be spoke with his sister about the summons issued to her by [police]."

Also named in the suit was Alphonse Muolo, Long Branch Director of Public Safety

The case is captioned Mazza v. Long Branch, Federal Case No. 3:12-cv-04535 and Mazza's attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Mazza's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $175,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Long Branch or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Long Branch or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Mazza $175,000 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.