Police officers’ lawsuit vs. Princeton scheduled for Oct. 22 trial

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A trial is scheduled for next month in the lawsuit that seven current and former members of the Princeton Police Department filed five years ago against the town, the police department and a former police chief.

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert said on Sept. 4 that there would be another attempt made to settle the case, one the town’s insurance carrier is handling. She did not elaborate.

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At the moment, the matter is scheduled for a trial in state Superior Court, Trenton, starting Oct. 22. The officers are seeking damages.

“There haven’t been any recent settlement discussions at all in this case,” Matthew A. Peluso, the lawyer representing the seven officers, said by phone on Sept. 6.

He said that from his clients’ perspective, there has “never really been any serious settlement negotiations from the defendants in the case in the entire five-year history.”

The lawsuit has been hanging over Princeton since the officers, five men and two women, brought the case in August 2013, which was the first year of the consolidation of the merged community.

In their complaint, the officers alleged they were victims of discrimination and sexual harassment.

They claimed, among other things, that former Police Chief David Dudeck “repeatedly” mocked one of the male plaintiffs who had lost one of his testicles as a result of testicular cancer, and “repeatedly” called another plaintiff a homosexual, even though he was not.

Dudeck left the department in 2013 through a separation agreement he reached with the town. Earlier that year, the police union brought allegations of administrative misconduct against Dudeck, but the matter was dropped as a condition of the agreement.

“My clients have always, always wanted their day in court and have been patiently waiting for that day for five years,” Peluso said. “That is why the case is proceeding to trial.”

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