On March 23, 2010, Springfield Township (Union County) agreed to pay $22,500 to a Township police sergeant who sued Chief William Chisholm and other Township officials for allegedly creating “an extremely terrible/unbearable hostile work environment.”

In his suit, Springfield Police Sergeant James W. Fine claimed that Chief Chisholm called him a “goofball and immature” and accused him “of using illegal steroids.” The complaint also alleges that Chief Chisholm, in June 2007, “whipped his hand (back-hand style) towards [Fine’s] neck.”

The case is captioned Fine v. Springfield, Docket No. UNN-L-902-08 and Fine’s attorney was Patrick P. Toscano, Jr. of Caldwell. Case documents are on-line here.

None of Fine’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $22,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Springfield or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Springfield’s insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Fine $22,500 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.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]