Westfield settlements cost city taxpayers

WESTFIELD (WWLP)- The Westfield News media partner 22News’ I-Team spent weeks requesting and reviewing dozens of lawsuits. From legal fees to judgments and settlements, they discovered cities are paying to defend employees and pay out large checks when they lose or settle a case. Here are Westfield settlements and judgments from 2012-2015.

Background: In 2011, then Mayor Daniel Knapik ordered DPW workers to remove political signs from a tree belt. Knapik had said that the signs were being removed as a safety concern for drivers at that intersection. The plaintiffs, however, had argued that this was not the case, saying that the signs were removed because the candidates were rivals to Knapik, and that a nonpolitical commercial sign remained standing on the property after the political signs were removed.
Plaintiffs: David Flaherty, Jane Wesley and David Costa.
Defendant: Daniel Knapik
The plaintiffs received a summary judgement: “The removal of political lawn signs on November 7, 2011 by order of the Defendant Daniel Knapik constituted content-based, but not intentional, discrimination in violation of the rights of the Plaintiffs as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The city also paid the attorneys for the Plaintiffs, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, $53,000 in legal fees.

Background: Civil action and the Maple Street Water Main Replacement Bid and Contract.
Plaintiff: Langone Plumbing
Defendants: City of Westfield, Ronald Cote, Matthew Barnes and Michael Burns Sr.
The city of Westfield settled for $32,000.

Background: A Westfield police officer, Juanita Mejias, sued the state Executive Office of Public Safety and the state Human Resources division over hiring practices for municipal officers due to gender discrimination. Mejias was fired after failing a physical abilities test, which included scaling a 5 foot wall. The test was modified, Mejias passed and was rehired as an officer.
Plaintiff: Juanita Mejias
Defendants: City of Westfield
Mejias settled with the city of Westfield for $30,000.

The city settled with Meadow Village for $28,750. The defendants were Daniel Knapik (Mayor), Christopher Keefe (Council President), and Susan Phillips (City Solicitor).

The city settled with Nelson, Kimberly and Carlos Roque for $10,000. They were suing the city of Westfield on behalf of Westfield High School, Westfield Public School District School Committee, Westfield Police Department and officer James Summers.

Background: Ricky Maciorowski a Westfield police officer sued Carl Schwarzenbach for negligence in a traning drill when Schwarzenbach is alleged to have fired a revolver loaded with blanks at Maciorowski’s face from only 2-3 feet away. Schwarzenbach was a 17-year-old Westfield Police explorer who participated as an armed suspect in a “Code White” police drill.
Plaintiff: Ricky Maciorowski
Defendant: Carl Schwarzenbach
The city settled with Maciorowski for $8,250

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