On August 7, 2016, the County of Camden agreed to pay $5,000 to a Philadelphia man who said that he was wrongfully charged for disorderly conduct and ejected from a June 22, 2013 Toby Keith concert at the Susquehanna Bank Center.

In his lawsuit, Jeremy Dale Bland alleged that after he “completed his task” and returned to his seat, he was seized and assaulted by security personnel from “Live Nation and/or Susquehanna and/or [National Event Services]” while Sheriff’s Officer Sharon Grate-Hameen observed and allegedly “failed to intervene and stop the vicious, brutal and unprovoked assault.”  He claimed that Grate-Hameen charged him with Disorderly Conduct and assisted in ejecting him from the facility.

The case is captioned Bland, et al v County of Camden, et al Federal Case No. 15-cv-04144 and Bland’s attorney was Christopher K. Koutsouris of Forked River.  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 lawsuit’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court.  Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants.  All that is known for sure is that Camden or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Bland $5,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants’ decision 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 resolve 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]