Friday, November 13, 2009

Ex-Employee/Wife of City Attorney Suit Settled

After commenting about a lawsuit that was filed against the City by the wife of one of our City attorneys, I was told that it was settled a couple of months ago.  I reviewed the council meeting minutes that can be found on the City website and could find no reference to the lawsuit or its settlement. 

According to my source, the lawsuit was settled for $140,000.00 and thankfully for overtaxed taxpayers no where near the $2 million ex-employee, Dawn Kologi, was looking for.

It boggles my mind that the City participated in illegal activities which could cause this action having merit when the City is under the legal guidance of City attorney, Edward Kologi, the husband of the plaintiff, as well as three other attorneys.  Isn't it the duty of any City attorney to bring any acts of malfeasance to the attention of the City, if, in fact, it exsists, so it may correct its behavior?  

This is another example of the fallout that occurs when hiring practices are guided by politics.

I've compared being a City attorney to winning a lottery on past ocassions.  Who knew that comparison would one day apply to the wife of a City attorney? 

Here's the original story from the S.L.

"Official files notice of intent to sue Linden
Claim alleges harassment in recreation department
Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Linden official has filed notice of her intention to sue the city for $2 million, alleging harassment and retaliation in the workplace that prevented her from being promoted.

Dawn Kologi, assistant superintendent of the Department of Recreation and Community Services, filed her notice of claim Jan. 29. In it, she named the City of Linden and its Department of Recreation, along with city council president Robert Bunk and councilman Derek Armstead. The action also names four employees in the Department of Recreation: superintendent Alfred Volpe, Walter Martin and Lenore and Richard Price. Lenore Price -- who is married to Richard Price -- is councilman Bunk's daughter.

The notice of claim precedes an actual lawsuit.

Kologi's action is made all the more complicated because she is the wife of Edward Kologi, who is Linden's city attorney. Linden must now hire outside counsel to investigate the matter because of the inherent conflict of interest, Mayor Richard Gerbounka said.

The claim contends that after Dawn Kologi reprimanded Lenore Price in December 2005, then later reported to Volpe what she believed to be "a number of instances of unlawful conduct," the conduct intensified over the next two years. It culminated this past December, when Volpe transferred Dawn Kologi's duties to Walter Martin, a subordinate employee. The Star-Ledger obtained a copy of the three-page notice of claim.

Dawn Kologi also alleges that councilman Armstead, who was then personnel and finance committee chairman, tried to convince Volpe to defer his scheduled retirement, so as to eventually prevent her from being promoted to superintendent. Volpe still leads the Department of Recreation.

Dawn Kologi's attorney, Domenick Carmagnola, said a letter was sent to the city a few days before notice was filed, asking to address his client's issues. Instead of investigating the complaints, officials placed Dawn Kologi on paid administrative leave without any explanation, Carmagnola said. She remains on paid leave.

"There can be no clearer evidence of direct and intentional retaliation than this," according to the notice of claim. Carmagnola, who said his client wants to keep her job with Linden, added that if the city does not respond within six months, he would proceed with the lawsuit.

No one from Linden would comment on the specifics of the notice of claim, although Bunk said it has already been turned over to the city's Insurance Fund Commission. Gerbounka said an attorney would be hired this week -- with no connection to Linden -- "to fact-find this whole problem."

While the mayor said he wasn't taking a position in the case, he expressed his displeasure that the city -- already financially strapped -- has to now spend more money on a lawyer.

"It's upsetting when we could be focusing our energies on positive issues that could benefit the taxpayer," he said.

Alexi Friedman may be reached at (908) 302-1505 or"


Anonymous said...

First I heard of a settlement.How much did it cost the city in legal fees???

NFS said...

I don't have that information. Hopefully, the lawyer's fees weren't too much considering this appears to be a dispute between a bunch of politically-connected, overpaid crybabies. I wonder if Ed Kologi received a lawyer referral fee from Domenick Carmagnola though.

Anonymous said...

i always wonder why, when there is such a fiasco that ends up costing the taxpayers a lot of money, that there is never accountability found as to who is responsible for this fiinancial mess to the taxpayers. It shold be easy since all one needs is to read the transcripts. Then have those accountable for this travesty pay for it, maybe deduct it from their future pension payouts, although there wont be any pension in the future anyway.