Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Involving Hamilton Township Committeewoman; Tort Claimed Filed by Township Manager

Committeewoman Aline Dix
In less than thirty days after a lawsuit was filed by Committeewoman Aline Dix, a settlement between the parties has been reached but the drama may not stop there. Township Manager Michael Jacobs has started to initiate his own litigation. 

Galloway Township News was first to report that on April 17, 2014 a lawsuit was filed in Atlantic County Superior Court by Pitman based Attorney Sebastian Ionna on behalf of Hamilton Township Committeewoman Aline Dix. The lawsuit was filed against Township Administrator Michael S. Jacobs, Mayor Roger Silva, Deputy Mayor Amy Gatto and Mary Kelly from Human Resources.

Dix, who was elected to Hamilton Township Committee in November 2011 alleged in the verified complaint that she was retaliated against and further violated of her substantive rights under the New Jersey Constitution and New Jersey Statues. Dix also alleged the retaliation has created a hostile and retaliatory work environment. 

Confidential Investigative Report was released with the complaint filed by Committeewoman Aline Dix which detailed several of the interviews and correspondence between the parties. 

According to the Final Settlement Agreement, General Releases were exchanged between Aline Dix and the parties listed except for Township Manager Michael Jacobs. As an undated proposed settlement agreement was signed between Dix, Silva and Gatto, Jacobs was not listed as settling. The final settlement was signed on May 18, 2014, yet days prior on May 8, 2014, Jacobs filed his own Tort Claim against Dix for a potential lawsuit to be filed in Atlantic County Superior Court or in Federal District Court. 

Jacobs, who is represented by Arthur Murray Esq., from the law firm of Jacobs & Barbone in Atlantic City, alleged that Dix made certain statements on or about February 12, 2014, before the Hamilton Township Utilities Authority wherein she "attributed violations of the law to claimant Michael Jacobs. Said comments represent defamation in the form of slander per se". Murray alleges in the Tort claim that the damages include ridicule, humiliation, and loss of reputation.

In order to settle the claims asserted in Dix's complaint, the Township of Hamilton agrees to pay Dix's attorney Sebastian B. Ionna II, Esq., $22,500 which is stipulated to attorney fees. The Township also agreed to pay the costs of the mediator in the amount of $2,500 to the Hon. George L. Seltzer J.S.C. for mediation services. 

The agreement also removes the restriction of Dix not being able to enter the Municipal Complex without prior 24-hour notice. Going forward, Dix will have to address any requests for information through Philip Sartorio and not Township Manager Michael Jacobs. If Sartorio is unresponsive or unavailable to respond, Dix must then request information from Mayor Roger Silva or his successor. All other members of Committee will continue to make their requests through the Township Manager. 

If Dix breaches the agreement, she agrees to pay back the $22,500 to the Township. If the Township breaches the agreement, Dix is permitted to reinstate her lawsuit and proceed with her claims.

A joint statement was issued and outlined in the agreement as saying, "The issues between Committeewoman Aline Dix and the Township of Hamilton have been resolved to the satisfaction of the parties. All interested parties agree that this was accomplished in such a manner that the personal interests involved were set aside so as to promote the best interests of the Township and it's residents". 

Sebastian Ionna, Esq., attorney for Dix issued his own statement, "We are glad the Township agreed to withdraw the restrictions it placed on Committeewomen Dix that violated her constitutional rights. Committeewoman Dix is committed to continuing to focus on representing the people of Hamilton Township and protecting their interests. She is also looking forward to putting this behind her and having everyone on the Township Committee move forward with a clean slate". 

The next chapter will continue if Jacobs proceeds with a lawsuit against Committeewoman Dix and his employer, Hamilton Township. 


Anonymous said...

Jacobs is a joke and needs to go.

Anonymous said...

Dix is a joke and needs to go. And she will.

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