On September 30, 2013, the City of Union City (Hudson County) agreed to pay $25,000 to a local man who sued members of the Union City Police Department for arresting him on October 2, 2010 without justification and applying excessive force against him.
In his complaint, Plaintiff Franklin Garcia does not recite the particular manner in which the excessive force was allegedly used. It only claimed that William Varona and Frank DePinto, Jr. were the Union City officers involved. Garcia claimed that the charges of Aggravated Assault and Obstruction of justice were dismissed on December 5, 2011.
Also named in the suit was Union City Police Chief Charles Everett.
The case is captioned Garcia v. Union City, Federal Case No. 2:12-cv-06044 and Garcia’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 Garcia’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $25,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Union City or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Union City or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Garcia $25,000 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.