On September 4, 2013, the Borough of Ocean Gate (Ocean County) agreed to pay $23,000 to a local man who sued members of the Ocean Gate Police Department for allegedly arresting him without probable cause and applying handcuffs too tightly.

In his suit, Sean Hosey said he had a graduation ceremony for his son at his home on June 25, 2010.  Since fireworks were ignited, police officers Kevin Frizziola, Andrew Welsh and George Kempker were dispatched.  He claimed that the officers were “specifically rude” toward 15-year old daughter and wife Dorothy Hosey, who joined him as co-plaintiff in the suit.  When he “got out of his to calm his wife down” Hosey claimed that he was arrested without justification by the officers.  He claimed that the officers “applied inordinate pressure” in handcuffing him and refused to loosen the cuffs despite his complaints. 

Also named in the suit were Ocean Gate Police Chief Reese J. Fisher.

The case is captioned Hosey v. Ocean Gate, Federal Case No. 3:12-cv-03731 and Hosey’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 Hosey’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $23,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Ocean Gate or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Ocean Gate or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Hosey $23,000 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]