On April 24, 2014, the City of Plainfield (Union County) agreed to pay $145,000 to a Police Aide who sued a Plainfield Police lieutenant for retaliating and racially discriminating against her.

In her suit, Sharon Williams claimed that Lieutenant Jeffrey Plum suspended her for refusing to obey orders that Williams claimed violated established rules and guidelines.  Williams, who is African-American, claimed that Plum, who is white, “constantly inject[ed] himself into [her] business and job when he has no need or right to” and filed false disciplinary charges against her.  She said that he didn’t conduct himself in the same way toward white employees.

The case is captioned Williams v. Plainfield, Docket No. UNN-L-4536-11 and Williams’s attorney was Lawrence N. Lavigne of Union. Case documents are on-line here.

None of the Williams’s have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $145,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Plainfield or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Plainfield or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay him $145,000 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]