On December 15, 2014, a three-judge Appellate Division panel rejected Wildwood Crest Borough’s attempt to make the New Jersey Civil Service Commission’s proceeding regarding former Borough Police Sergeant Thomas Hunt’s claim of retaliation preclusive of the sergeant’s federal lawsuit against the Borough. In the decision, which is on-line here, the panel held that Hunt’s decision to withdraw from the Commission’s process “was not motivated by forum shopping or avoiding a potentially bad result” thus differentiating it from a New Jersey Supreme Court case that the Borough relied upon.
This ruling clears the way for Hunt to reactivate his federal suit for retaliatory discharge against the Borough. The federal court had dismissed Hunt’s lawsuit because of the issue that was resolved by today’s Appellate Division decision. In its dismissal order, the federal court specifically preserved Hunt’s right to reactivate his civil complaint if the Borough’s appeal was denied.
A copy of Hunt’s federal lawsuit, which describes the alleged events that led up to Hunt’s termination, is on-line here.