On November 23, 2011, the Board of Education of North Bergen (Hudson County) agreed to pay $7,500 to a local man who sued the school board for firing him and his girlfriend in order to retaliate against his mother

In his suit, Jeffrey Saavedra said he and his girlfriend, Jessica Rivera, were both fired from their jobs because school board officials, specifically Robert M. Kornberg, Katherine Somick and City Councilman Edward Somick, sought to retaliate against his mother, Ivonne Saavedra for complaining about alleged legal violations committed by the school district.

The settlement is with Jeffrey only, even though Ivonne is named as a plaintiff in the suit.  Ivonne was dismissed from this suit and has her own suit under Federal Case No. 2:12-cv-06080.

The case is captioned Saavedra v. North Bergen, Hudson County Superior Court Docket No. L-6014-09 and Saavedra’s attorney was Maurice W. McLaughlin of Totowa.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Saavedra’s 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 North Bergen or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that North Bergen or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Saavedra $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.

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