On July 1, 2013, the Borough of Seaside Heights (Ocean County) agreed to pay $20,000 to a Toms River man who sued members of the Seaside Heights Police Department for assaulting him. 

In his suit, James Monahan said that on January 7, 2012, he was arrested at the Bamboo Bar and then taken to the Seaside Heights Police Department where he assaulted with excessive force and without justification Patrolmen Ryan Dunne and Brian McLaughlin.

Also named in the suit were Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd, Detective Stephen Korman and Sergeants James Hans and Richard Roemmele.

The case is captioned Monahan v. Seaside Heights, Federal Case No. 3:12-cv-04699 Monahan’s attorney was Thomas J. Mallon of Freehold.  Case documents are on-line here

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public’s right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of Monahan’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $20,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Seaside Heights or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Seaside Heights or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Monahan $20,000 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]