On March 20, 2009, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey decided the case of Wade v. Colaner. In the case, plaintiff, a Tinton Falls police officer, was pulled over by New Jersey State Troopers for speeding. Plaintiff was subsequently charged with careless driving, obstruction of administration of law, and resisting arrest. On account of this incident, he was suspended from his position of employment.

Ultimately, plaintiff brought this action alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference. Defendants counterclaimed against Plaintiff for reimbursement of the wages paid to Plaintiff during his suspension and moved for summary judgment as to Plaintiff’s other claims. The Court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s excessive force claim, but dismissed Plaintiff’s deliberate indifference claim. Moreover, the Court granted the Tinton Falls Defendants’ motion for summary judgment finding that Plaintiff was not entitled to a pre-suspension hearing and also granted the motion for summary judgment for reimbursement of the wages paid to Plaintiff during his suspension.

This case shows that a public safety officer who is suspended from his or her employment and is continuing to receive their wages during the period of suspension potentially may have to reimburse their employer for the wages they have received. As a result, public safety officers should be conscious of this possibility in the event they are suspended from employment.

A similar type concept was the subject of previous posts to this blog regarding the 180 day bill recently signed into law. As you will recall, the bill, in essence, allows certain law enforcement officers and firefighters to regain pay status when appeals of termination are not resolved within 180 days. Under this bill, if an officer and/or firefighter has been receiving his/her base salary after expiration of the 180 day period and he/she ultimately loses their appeal, the officer and/or firefighter will be required to reimburse the employing agency of department all of the base salary received during the period of appeal. Certain rules of law such as these make it imperative for public safety officers to be informed regarding all the potential consequences in the event they are targeted for suspension and/or removal.   

 

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog (www.njpublicsafetyofficers.com) approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.