Saturday, August 20, 2016

Manasquan Borough confidentially paid out $87,500 to settle former Code Enforcement Supervisor's wrongful discharge lawsuit.

On May 6, 2016, the Borough of Manasquan (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $87,500 to its former Code Enforcement Supervisor who said that he was fired for not yielding to the former mayor's pressure to refrain from enforcing the code against various people including the daughter of the mayor's friend.

In his lawsuit, Patrick J. Callahan, said that then Mayor George Dempsey pressured him to not enforce the building and municipal codes against Borough residents.  When he refused to back down, Dempsey, along with present Borough Administrator Joseph DiIorio, allegedly retaliated against him by berating and humiliating him, undermining him with residents, employees and contractors and restructuring his hours to prevent him from doing part time inspection work for Sea Girt and Brielle.  He said that Dempsey and DiIorio increased his workload to "set him up to fail."  He said that he was fired in August 2013 and lost his pension because he was not yet vested.

The case is captioned Callahan v. Borough of Manasquan, et al, Monmouth County Superior Court Docket No. MON-L-3847-13 and Callahan's attorney was Maurice W. McLaughlin of Totowa.  Case documents are on-line here and the lawsuit exhibits 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 lawsuit's allegations have been proven or disproven in court.  Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants.  All that is known for sure is that Manasquan or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Callahan $87,500 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision 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 resolve before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.