Friday, November 28, 2014

Deptford school board secretly settles with former high school vice principal.

On February 22, 2014, the Deptford Township Board of Education (Gloucester County) agreed to pay $20,000 and make other concessions to its former high school vice principal who sued the board for Law Against Discrimination and Family Medical Leave Act violations.

In his suit, Franco Colamarco, who has been employed at the school district since 2005, said that in 2012 he "was unlawfully demoted and returned to his prior position as a teacher."  He said that the demotion was due to him going out on disability on January 27, 2012 for a back injury.  He also that he was removed from the vice principal position in part because principal Melvin Allen preferred a female vice principal.

The case is captioned Colamarco v. Deptford Township Board of Education, Gloucester County Superior Court Docket No. GLO-L-1539-12 and Colamarco's attorney was Kevin M. Costello of Mount Laurel.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of Colamarco's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $20,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Deptford or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Deptford or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Colamarco $20,000 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.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Middlesex County pays $325,000 to settle man's estate's wrongful death suit against jail guards.

On October 8, 2014, the County of Middlesex agreed to pay $325,000 to the estate of a man who died while in custody at the County's Correctional Facility.

The lawsuit was brought by Lena Delgado de Torres, the personal representative of the Estate of Humberto Alfonso.  Alfonso was a pre-trial detainee who died on February 28, 2011 while in custody at the Middlesex County Correctional Facility.  According to the complaint, jail officers attempted to handcuff Alfonso to move him from his jail cell to the medical area.  Alfonso's alleged refusal to fully comply with the officers resulted in a physical altercation involving Alfonso and several corrections officers.  The lawsuit states that Alfonso was pepper-sprayed after having been handcuffed and placed in a "restraint chair."  When a nurse saw that he was unresponsive, Alfonso was moved to a stretcher and died after cardio-pulmonary resuscitation efforts failed.  The lawsuit states that Alfonso's autopsy revealed that the pepper spray was the proximate cause of his death.

The corrections officers were identified only by their last names: Knight, Poulson, Castro, Estevez, Ortega, Christiansen and Szumowski.  They, along with Warden Edmond C. Cicchi, were identified in the settlement agreement as "non-settling defendants."

The case is captioned the Estate of Alfonso v. Middlesex County, Federal Case No. 3:12-cv-01227 and the Estate's attorney was Lennox S. Hinds of Somerset and New York.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of the Estate's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $325,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Middlesex or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Middlesex or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the Estate $325,000 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.

North Haledon secretly pays $16,000 to settle police illegal stop and search lawsuit.

On June 11, 2012, the Borough of North Haledon (Passaic County) agreed to pay $16,000 to four Wayne men who sued members of the North Haledon Police Department for allegedly stopping, searching and detaining them without probable cause.

In their suit, Anthony Terrana, Nicholas Terrana, Antonio Terrana and Antonio Amabile claimed that on July 15, 2009 the car in which they were travelling was illegally stopped by Officer Michael Cedar.  They allege that they were all ordered out of the car by Cedar, Officer Dean Fusco, Sergeant Marc Rowe and Lieutenant Todd Darby.  They claim that the officers illegally searched them, seized their cell phones and wallets and subjected them to "abusive language and intimidation."  Eventually, they claim, the officers told them that they were free to go.

The case is captioned Terrana, et al v. North Haledon, Docket No. PAS-L-2563-10 and the men's  attorney was Raymond P. Vivino of Wayne.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of the men's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $16,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by North Haledon or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that North Haledon or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the men $16,000 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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Plainfield pays $145,000 to secretly settle Police Aide's racial discrimination/hostile work environment lawsuit.

On April 24, 2014, the City of Plainfield (Union County) agreed to pay $145,000 to a Police Aide who sued a Plainfield Police lieutenant for retaliating and racially discriminating against her.

In her suit, Sharon Williams claimed that Lieutenant Jeffrey Plum suspended her for refusing to obey orders that Williams claimed violated established rules and guidelines.  Williams, who is African-American, claimed that Plum, who is white, "constantly inject[ed] himself into [her] business and job when he has no need or right to" and filed false disciplinary charges against her.  She said that he didn't conduct himself in the same way toward white employees.

The case is captioned Williams v. Plainfield, Docket No. UNN-L-4536-11 and Williams's attorney was Lawrence N. Lavigne of Union. Case documents are on-line here.

None of the Williams's have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $145,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Plainfield or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Plainfield or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay him $145,000 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.

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.

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.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Margate settles Clerk's Whistleblower suit: Clerk to retire and get $284,000, with lawyer to get $50,000.

On November 6, 2014, the City of Margate (Atlantic County) agreed to pay $334,000 to its longtime municipal clerk and his lawyer to settle a whistleblower suit he filed against the City after he was allegedly retaliated against for reporting illegal conduct by a Margate elected official.

In his suit, Thomas Hiltner, who has worked for the City since 1986, said that in 2011, he and City Chief Financial Officer Lisa McLaughlin compared proposals from two accounting firms--Bowman & Company and Ford Scott Accountants--and recommended the Bowman firm due in part to that firm being 7% less expensive than Ford Scott.  Hiltner claimed that he learned in August 2011 that Commissioner Brenda Taube opposed the recommendation based on the Ford Scott Accounting firm's alleged "help and assistance 'to the Commissioner's ticket' throughout her campaign."

Hiltner claimed that he reported Taube's position to his immediate supervisor as well as to the police because he believed that "the award of a public contract based upon a vendor currying favor with a candidate was the precise type of "contribution' outlawed by New Jersey law."  Hiltner also alleged that in his subsequent conversation with Mayor Michael Becker, Becker "confessed and responded that regardless of the request for proposal process, Ford Scott was getting the contract."

According to the lawsuit, Hiltner's reporting of Taube precipitated "the most aggressive and continuous campaign of retaliatory action [he] has ever experienced in over a quarter of a century of public service" at the hands of Taube and Becker.  Among the retaliatory acts, Hiltner claimed that he was stripped of his duty as beach badge sales supervisor and the $5,000 stipend that went with it.  Also, Hiltner alleged that City officials "manufactured verba1 and written reprimands against [him], allegations of [his] violation of the City's vacation and sick time policy [and] allegations of [his] failure to follow the Family Medical Leave Act policy."

The case is captioned Hiltner v. Margate, Docket No. ATL-L-3105-12 and Hiltner's attorney was Louis M. Barbone of Atlantic City.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Hiltner's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $334,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Margate or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Margate or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Hiltner $334,000 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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Belvidere pays $45,000 to settle police false arrest/excessive force suit.

On September 11, 2014, the Town of Belvidere (Warren County) agreed to pay $45,000 to a local woman who sued members of the Belvidere Police Department for allegedly assaulting and falsely arresting her.

In her suit, Lisa Patton said that on February 10, 2011, her daughter called police after the mother and daughter had an argument over proper dosage of the daughter's prescription medicine.  According to the complaint, Patton's daughter had substance abuse issues and wanted to ingest more of the medicine than prescribed and Patton wished to limit her daughter's medication intake to the prescribed dose.  Belvidere police officers Matthew Scott and Frank Tootle, III went to the family home and both Patton and her son told them that the daughter had already had her prescribed dose that day.

According to the complaint, both officers then left the residence and "attempted to find a criminal violation with which to charge" Patton. They returned a short time later and, allegedly without a search or arrest warrant, entered Patton's home and ordered Patton to give her daughter the medication.  After the daughter reached into Patton's pocket and removed the medication, the daughter was allegedly asked by the police to leave the residence.  Thereafter, Patton alleged that she "tapped [Tootle] on the shoulder."  Scott allegedly grabbed her by the wrists and Tootle elbowed her in the hip and face.  She was then arrested for assaulting a police officer, dragged from her home in her bathrobe and handcuffed to a wall at the Warren County Jail.

The case is captioned Patton v. Belvidere, Docket No. WAR-L-521-11 and Patton's attorney was Robert C. Woodruff of Morristown.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Patton's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $45,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Belvidere or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Belvidere or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Patton $45,000 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.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Atlantic City pays $200,000 to settle police excessive force suit.

On April 30, 2014, the City of Atlantic City (Atlantic County) agreed to pay $200,000 to two local women, who are sisters, who sued members of the Atlantic City Police Department for allegedly beating them and unleashing a police dog on one of them.

In their suit, Shaheedah Woodall and Khadijah Woodall said that they were at Bally's Hotel and Casino on August 8, 2010 when a fight erupted on the casino floor.  Shaheedah, who is partially disabled and uses a cane, was knocked to the ground during the fight and lost her cane.  According to the suit, Bally's security officers made everyone leave the casino and wait outside.  After the police had arrived and everything calmed down, Khadijah said that she asked the police officers for permission to re-enter the casino to retrieve Shaheedah's cane.  After having been denied re-entry by several officers, the sisters claimed that Officer Natane Naylor wrapped her hands around Khadijah's neck and pushed her to the ground.  The complaint alleged that Naylor, along with Officers Syed Shah, Grace Cook and Joseph Procopio then "unleashed a savage attack on Khadijah, which included numerous punches to the head and face, kicks to the ribs and midsection." Officer James Hurley then allegedly grabbed Shaheedah from behind and called her a "crippled n****r whore." Shaheedah claims that a police dog, handled by Officer Garry Stowe, then ripped into her and disfigured her left breast.  Shaheedah claims that she was so scared that she lost control of her bowel functions.

The sisters claimed that they were both charged with and indicted for resisting arrest and other offenses, but that those charges were later dismissed against Shaheedah but were still pending against Khadijah when the lawsuit was filed.

Also named in the suit were Atlantic City Police Sergeant William Bell who allegedly came to the scene but did nothing to intervene.

The case is captioned Woodall v. Atlantic City, Federal Case No. 12-cv-4963 and Woodall's attorney was Stanley O. King of Woodbury. Case documents are on-line here.

None of the Woodall sisters' allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $200,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Atlantic City or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Atlantic City or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the sisters $200,000 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.

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.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lawnside secretly pays $125,000 to settle negligence suit by family of slain 18 year-old.

On August 6, 2013, the Borough of Lawnside (Camden County) agreed to pay $125,000 to the estate of a teen who was fatally shot on April 12, 2009 while at a party at the Borough's Wayne R. Bryant Community Center.

In the suit, Lissette Rivera, claimed that Borough officials "knew or should have known" that an unruly crowd that gathered at the party would become violent and that her son, Sergio Rivera, would have been alive today but for the officials' negligence.

The case is captioned Rivera v. Lawnside, New Jersey Superior Court Docket No. CAM-L-1832-11 and Rivera's attorney was Timothy J. McNamara of Marlton.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of Rivera's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $125,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Lawnside or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Lawnside or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Rivera $125,000 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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

East Newark pays $101,000 plus attorney fees to settle former police dispatcher's lawsuit claiming forced oral sex. Lawyer seeks $1.2 million in fees.

Update: 11/22/14:  Although Arias' lawyer sought a total of $1,215,935.15 in costs and legal fees, Judge Kimberly Espinales-Maloney cut the amount substantially and awarded him $93,480.15.  Her opinion, which is misdated (it was really argued on November 7, 2014 and issued on November 10 2014), is on-line here.
On July 25, 2014, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mary K. Costello confirmed an agreement under which the Borough of East Newark (Hudson County) agreed to pay a Borough former police dispatcher and volunteer firefighter $101,000 in damages, plus attorney fees to be established by the court, to settle her lawsuit which claimed that she was repeated assaulted sexually by a Borough police sergeant.  In an October 8, 2014 application to the court, the woman's attorney applied for attorney fees of $786,247.50, costs of $36,563.90 and a "contingency enhancement" of $393,123.75 for a total award of $1,215,935.15.  Judge Kimberly Espinales-Maloney is scheduled to hear the attorney's application on Friday, November 7, 2014, 9 a.m. in Courtroom 807, 595 Newark Avenue, Jersey City.

In her suit, Viviana Arias said that she served as a volunteer firefighter at the East Newark Fire Department from 2004 until her forced resignation in 2012 and also worked as a dispatcher for the East Newark Police Department from May 2008 until her termination on May 1, 2010.  She claimed that while working as a dispatcher, Sergeant Robert Tomasko "would repeatedly order Plaintiff Arias to work shifts that would create an opportunity where the two of them would be left alone." When working together along, Arias alleged that Tomasko would "force [her] to perform oral sex upon him [and] force [her] to swallow his sperm upon ejaculating."

She said that this would cause her to go into the bathroom and vomit and that Tomasko threatened to "immediately fire" her should she disclose to anyone what had occurred.  Arias also alleged that Tomasko would taunt and threaten her with comments such as "I am a family man and you are just a bitch with two children by two different fathers" and "I know where your children go to school" According to the complaint, Tomasko fired her on May 10, 2010 because he realized that "Borough of East Newark Police Department was becoming aware of the [alleged sexual] conduct . . . and terminated [her] in an effort to silence her."

In another count of her complaint, Arias alleged that she was harassed out of the Borough's fire department, where Tomasko served as fire chief, because of her pregnancy, her gender and as retaliation for having made the sexual allegations against Tomasko.

Arias' attorney, Paul S. Foreman of Whippany, has asked the court to award him a total of $1,215,935.15 in fees and costs for representing Arias.  In court filings, he complained that the law firm of Roth D'Aquanni of Springfield, which had been hired by East Newark to investigate Arias's allegations against Tomasko, did not interview "one single police officer other than Tomasko and did not interview East Newark Police Chief Kenneth Sheehan."

Among other documents received from East Newark in response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request were letters from 2013 and 2014 indicating that Tomasko "took a voluntary demotion rather than going through with the rest of the discipline."

The case is captioned Arias v. East Newark, Docket No. HUD-L-2155-12. Case documents, including those pertaining Foreman's attorney fee claim and the voluntary demotion, are on-line here.

None of Arias's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $101,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by East Newark, Tomasko or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that East Newark or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Arias $101,000 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.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Morris-Union Jointure Commission pays $60,000 to settle termination suit filed by teacher who alleged "improper touching" of a student.

On June 2, 2014, the Morris-Union Jointure Commission agreed to pay $60,000 to a Teacher Assistant who claimed she was fired after reporting that a male Teacher Assistant may have improperly touched a 9-year-old male student with Down Syndrome.

In her suit, Jeanine Somerville said that she was "abruptly terminated" from her Teacher Assistant position at the Commission's Union facility on June 30, 2011 even though her work had received good performance reviews.  She alleges that her termination was really caused by her report that another Teacher Assistant, Arthur Ciccione, may have acted inappropriately when taking a nine-year old autistic boy to the restroom on March 22, 2011.  Given that the student was non-verbal, he had scheduled restroom breaks.

According to the complaint, Somerville told Ciccione that the student stands when urinating and sits only if he "needs to poop."  Somerville returned to the restroom some time later and "noticed the child was sitting on the toilet and the Assistant's hand and wrist were out of eyesight under the child's testicles and buttocks area."  Somerville said that she was "alarmed at what she saw and asked the Assistant 'did he poop?'" According to the lawsuit, Ciccione "pulled his hand from under the child smoothly and with ease and stated in response, 'he was gaseous.'"  She noted that Ciccione was not wearing gloves and that there was no bowel movement in the toilet.

On March 24, 2011, Somerville said that she reported the matter to school principal Andrea Marmolegos and vice principal Kristen Szawan complied with their instruction to put her complaint in writing.  The next day, she claims she was "interrogated" by Superintendent Kim B. Coleman who asked her about her relationship with Ciccione, whether the two saw each other socially and if they were intimate.  She said she was called into the office on May 6, 2011 and given a termination letter effective June 30, 2011 which cited the reason for her termination as "economy and efficiency."

Also named in the suit was Business Administrator Susan Yaniro.

The case is captioned Somerville v. Morris-Union Jointure Commission, New Jersey Superior Court Docket No. UNN-L-2336-12 and Somerville's attorney was Theodore Campbell of New Brunswick.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Somerville's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $60,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the Morris-Union Jointure Commission or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that the Commission or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Somerville $60,000 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.