Wrongful termination suits abundant in NJ police department

New Jersey taxpayers in the city of Paterson may raise some eyebrows over millions being spent in lawsuits against the city. The lawsuits involve a number of allegations, with wrongful termination in the Paterson Police Department; the most common reason suits against the city are filed. Overall the city has agreed to pay over $2.3 million to cover settlements for those who won suits against the city.

A heated political debate has ensued at the city council level, due to the notion that a previous mayor for the city was listed in one of the lawsuits. The fact that these lawsuits are being followed by a 29-percent tax increase for the city is leaving some city councilors very concerned. One current councilman for the city claims allegations within these suits have been going on for years, and requested a financial listing of the settlements to clear the current mayor's name.

One settlement for $730,000 was awarded to a female police officer who claimed wrongful termination in 2006 for a medical condition. A $450,000 lawsuit was awarded to several litigants; who were all police officers claiming the former Mayor and current Police Chief caused them political retaliation when the former mayor's opponent was backed in the 2006 election. The former Mayor's opponent happened to be the father of one of the litigants in that lawsuit. Another police officer received a $250,000 settlement award in litigation involving a whistle-blower case, while yet another police officer received a $130,000 settlement in a case where she claimed the city was forcing her to retire.

Although in some cases the City has a special "excess" insurance policy to cover the costs of suits of this nature, most of these costs are being paid for with taxpayer money. Many believe that it is not uncommon for police departments of this size in New Jersey and elsewhere in the country to find out they are named as defendants in litigation matters.

Source: The Alternative Press, " City Pays $2.3 Million For Police Lawsuits in the Past Year," Joe Malinconico, Nov. 5, 2011

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