Monday, March 23, 2015

Former Somerset Fire District chairman quietly settles defamation suit.

On June 26, 2014, Michael Gilliam, the former chairman of Franklin Township (Somerset County) Fire District No. 3 Board of Commissioners secretly settled his defamation lawsuit against several fire officials.

The agreement, under which Gilliam received $240,000, settled his claims against East Franklin Volunteer Fire Department Chief Daniel Krushinski and President Christopher Fischer, Community Volunteer Fire Department Chief Richard Ries and Board Chairman Herman Calvo and Fire Commissioner Douglas Krushinski.  Also named in but previously dismissed from Gilliam's lawsuit were the East Franklin and Community Departments and Fire District No. 3.

Gilliam's lawsuit, filed on March 30, 2011, claimed that fire officials made written and verbal statements that falsely portrayed him as someone who engages in unlawful sexual acts with minors.  According to Gilliam, these defamatory statements were made in retaliation for him, as a Fire Commissioner, subjecting the two fire departments to increased financial oversight.

The settlement agreement is on-line here and more information regarding Gilliam's lawsuit is on-line here.

Unfortunately, the Fire District's insurer, the American Alternative Insurance Corporation, refused to release the settlement agreement in response to my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request made in 2014.  This refusal required me and attorney Walter M. Luers of Clinton to file a lawsuit to force disclosure of the settlement agreementhere.
.  More information on that suit is on-line