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Freehold Township officials, former police officer reach settlement

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – A settlement agreement has been reached between Freehold Township municipal officials and a former police officer regarding allegations the individual was receiving excessive disability payments.

On Nov. 10, the Township Committee authorized the settlement of the litigation between the township and the former officer in the Freehold Township Police Department. The litigation began in late 2018 when municipal officials filed a complaint against the former officer in state Superior Court.

According to the township’s complaint, the former officer began receiving accidental disability payments from the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits (DPB) in 2011 due to a hand injury that was determined to have left him permanently and totally disabled.

However, in 2017 the DPB determined he was no longer totally and permanently disabled. Under the state’s direction, municipal officials reinstated the former officer in the police department that year.

The township’s complaint alleges the individual successfully appealed the DPB decision to terminate his disability payments without informing municipal officials and that his successful appeal resulted in his improper collection of a salary from Freehold Township at the same time he was receiving disability payments.

In the complaint, municipal officials allege the former officer committed unjust enrichment. Freehold Township demanded from the court that it be awarded $13,020, which reflected the officer’s net pay from the township during the time when he was allegedly receiving disability payments and a township salary.

The individual filed a counterclaim in his answer to the township’s complaint in early 2019, alleging that municipal officials violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act.

In the counterclaim, he alleged that municipal officials were aware of his appeal and forced him back into the police department, which resulted in him taking physical and mental tests he would fail. He also alleged that municipal officials intentionally interfered with him losing the benefits.

The counterclaim demanded compensatory damages, consequential damages and punitive damages.

A notice of the settlement was sent to Superior Court in September and the Township Committee authorized the settlement on Nov. 10.

As stated in the resolution, representatives of the Monmouth County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund determined it was in the best interests of the parties to resolve all of the issues asserted in the litigation. Committee members determined they had no objection to the settlement that was reached.

According to the settlement agreement, the individual received $87,000 as compensation. The original amount was $100,000, but the individual agreed to have the amount reduced by $13,000 as credit to Freehold Township. The individual is not currently employed by Freehold Township.

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