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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Essex County pays $30,000 to settle jail guard assault case

Issue Detail:

On June 18, 2012, the County of Essex agreed to pay $30,000 to a Irvington man who sued the County\'s correctional facility and several corrections officers for allegedly assaulting him. In his suit, Lester Seeley said that on December 15, 2007 Essex County Corrections Officers Jermaine Baptiste, Bruce Moore, Danny Smith and Fuquan Countryman repeatedly assaulted him \"deliberately, maliciously and with willful indifference.\" No further details are contained in the lawsuit. Seeley also named Essex County Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura in the suit. The case is captioned Seeley v. Essex, Federal Case No. 3:08-cv-04717 and Seeley\'s attorney was Kevin C. Corriston of Hackensack. Case documents are on-line here. None of Seeley\'s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $30,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Essex or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Essex or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Seeley $30,000 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. ABOUT ME AND WHY I\'M POSTING THIS. I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party\'s Open Government Advocacy Project which seeks to increase governmental transparency and accountability, particularly at a local level. For more information on the Libertarian Party, go to http://www.njlp.org. As part of my work, I routinely check civil court cases where at least one of the parties is a government agency or official. Most often, these settlement agreements are never revealed to the public. I post them on the Libertarian Party\'s blog at http://njcivilsettlements.blogspot.com and other public forums because I believe that civil settlements, regardless of amount, may be of interest to citizens and taxpayers. John Paff Somerset, New Jersey




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New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project: Essex County pays $30,000 to settle jail guard assault case. August 02, 2012.
URL: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012214AR/
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