On September 28, 2015, the Township of Medford (Burlington County) agreed to pay $30,000 to a woman who claimed that the Township’s fire chief “smacked” her on the rear end.

In her suit, Lorie Cutts, an employee of the Township’s Fire Division, said that in December 2012 Fire Chief Thomas Thorn “‘smacked’ [her] on her rear end” when she, Thorn and two firefighters were heading to lunch.  According to the lawsuit, Thorn drove Cutts and the two firefighters to lunch and afterwards Cutts “went to her office, shut her door and cried.”

The case is captioned Cutts v. Township of Medford et al, Superior Court Docket No. BUR-L-1115-14 and Cutts’s attorney was Kevin M. Costello of Mount Laurel.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of the Cutts’ allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $30,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Medford or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Medford or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the Cutts $30,000 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]