Sunday, February 22, 2015

West Wildwood pays $350,000 to settle retaliation lawsuit filed by local couple.

On December 31, 2014, the Borough of West Wildwood (Cape May County) agreed to pay $350,000 to settle a lawsuit a local couple filed on July 9, 2012 against the Borough and its then Mayor Herbert Frederick and Commissioner Gerard McNamara.  The lawsuit, which spans 235 paragraphs, claims that Borough officials retaliated against the couple because they took a role in a seeking a recall election.

In their suit, James and Lori Perloff claimed that Frederick and McNamara had a sixty-six foot wall built in the public right of way adjacent to their property that prevented them "from utilizing the garages and driveway on their property."   According to the Perloffs, this was just one of many retaliatory actions Frederick and McNamara took against them for politically opposing them.

The case is captioned the James and Lori Perloff v. Borough of West Wildwood, et al, Federal Case No. 10-cv-05408 and the Perloffs's attorney was Dominic R. DePamphilis of Egg Harbor Township.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of the Perloffs' allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $350,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by West Wildwood or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that West Wildwood or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the Perloffs $350,000 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.