On September 2, 2017, the County of Middlesex agreed to pay $20,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estate of a 25-year-old Colonia woman who hanged herself on August 5, 2013 while an inmate in the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Facility.

In its complaint, the estate of Ashley Shubiger said that jail officials failed to protect the woman even though they knew or should have known that Shubiger “was a high risk of suicide” who “required one on one constant supervision.” 

The case is captioned Shubiger v. Middlesex County, et al, Middlesex County Superior Court Docket No. MID-L-4696-15 and Shubiger’s estate’s attorney was Dean R. Maglione of Newark.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of the estate’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 Middlesex or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay the estate $20,000 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]