An OPRA lawsuit against the City of Bayonne seeks records which would reveal the terms of a settlement offer ahead of formal adoption by the governing body, but following the city’s 9/24/2015 statement, according to the plaintiffs’ attorney, that a proposed settlement agreement had been approved. -NJFOG
Jan. 28, 2016
BAYONNE – A Somerset County man has filed a lawsuit against the city of Bayonne regarding its response to two Open Public Records Act requests last fall.
John Paff, a resident of the Somerset section of Franklin Township and chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project, filed a lawsuit in Hudson County Superior Court.
On Oct. 25 of last year, Paff requested information from Bayonne about two police brutality suits. Citing court records, nj.com reported that the attorney representing both plaintiffs in the lawsuits stated that the city said on Sept. 24 that a proposed settlement agreement had been approved.
In his OPRA requests, Paff sought the complaints filed in those lawsuits, their settlement agreements, and if settlements had not officially been released, any correspondence between Bayonne and the plaintiffs related to the settlements, nj.com reported.
Assistant city lawyer William Opel emailed Paff the requested complaints, but not the additional information he was seeking, according to nj.com.
Paff said that in a Nov. 9 letter, Opel informed him that no formal settlement yet existed for the two suits and that “any correspondence, electronic or otherwise, between counsel for the city and counsel for the plaintiffs would be exempt from disclosure under both the attorney-client privilege and the deliberative material exemption.”
Paff contends that Bayonne violated the OPRA statute by failing to make government records readily available. He said that information about the two brutality lawsuit settlements made public in a Jan. 15 news story should have been released to him in November. He has asked the court to declare Bayonne’s actions unlawful, order the city to release the records asked for in his OPRA requests, and to award counsel fees and other costs, nj.com reported.
The suit will be heard on Friday, March 4 at 9 a.m. by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Joseph Turula, according to Paff.
Article online here and re-posted above.
More detail on the case at Paff’s blog HERE.
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