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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Lavallette pays $7,500 to settle police false arrest suit

Issue Detail:

On June 7, 2012, the Borough of Lavallette (Ocean County) agreed to pay $7,500 to a Chester husband and wife who sued members of the Lavallette Police Department for allegedly arresting the husband without probable cause. In their suit, Michael and Ann Cotalo said that Michael was \"accosted\" by Lavallette Police Sergeant Jon Andrews and Officer Russell Charles on July 25, 2009. He claims that the officers arrested him without probable cause. The apparent charge against Cotalo was under the Borough\'s \"Loud and Unusual Noise\" ordinance, which Cotalo claimed was unconstitutional. The couple also alleged that Andrews and Charles seized a juvenile who was staying with them without probable cause. The case is captioned Cotalo v. Lavallette, Federal Case No. 11-cv-3449 and Cotalo\'s attorney was Craig V. O\'Connor of Morristown. Case documents are on-line here. None of the Cotalos\' allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $7,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Lavallette or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Lavallette or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the Cotalos $7,500 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: Lavallette pays $7,500 to settle police false arrest suit. August 01, 2013.
URL: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2013/2013213Ue/
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