On January 6, 2023, Ocean County Superior Court Judge Craig L. Wellerson approved a $110,000 settlement to resolve a child’s lawsuit against the Robbinsville Police Department (Mercer County) and Edward Vincent who, according to app.com’s DataUnverse, is a Robbinsville police officer. According to the lawsuit, the girl was visiting Vincent’s home on January 13, 2018 when a dog at the home “attacked and bit” her.

According to court filings, the dog was owned by the police department and was in Vincent’s custody at the time of the alleged incident. The girl, whose age was not disclosed, relied upon a certification by her plastic surgeon to help justify the settlement amount.

One half of the $110,000 judgment was assessed against the police department and the other half against Vincent. The girl’s attorney received $29,641.44 for his fees and expenses and the remaining $80,538.56 was placed in trust for the girl with the Ocean County Surrogate.

The case is captioned Jennifer Clifton, et al, v. Robbinsville Police Department, et al, New Jersey Superior Court Docket No. OCN-L-1240-21. and Clifton’s attorney was Robert Y. Cook of Forked River. The civil lawsuit and settlement agreement are on-line here.

The incident report filed by Officer Edward Vincent is on-line here.

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 employees or officials named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit’s allegations are just that–allegations. All that is known for sure is that Robbinsville or its insurer and Vincent or his insurer, for whatever reason, decided that they would rather pay the girl $110,000 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]