Brigantine Pays Whistle Blower. Pigeon Shooting.

From Press staff reports

Press of Atlantic City
July 28, 2007

BRIGANTINE – Insurance has paid the majority of a settlement the city agreed to with a worker who claimed he suffered official retaliation for being a whistle-blower.

William M. Lakes, a member of the city’s public-works department, and Brigantine agreed to a $345,000 settlement in April – after a judge ordered a jury’s $660,000 award in the case reduced. The jury believed Lakes’ claim that he was officially punished and harassed for reporting that co-workers were shooting pigeons on city property.

The Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund – a creation of government agencies in New Jersey – reported this week that the fund paid almost $225,000 of the settlement and nearly $90,000 in legal fees in the case.

City officials directed questions about the settlement to the insurance fund, but no one there responded to requests for comment Friday.

Arthur Murray of Jacobs & Barbone, an Atlantic City law firm, said his client already has been paid what he was due – $103,000 in compensatory damages and $129,000 in legal fees, both of which came from insurance. The city also paid Lakes $100,000 in punitive damages from its own account, and paid a $10,000 fine to the state, according to Murray.

Lakes still works for the city and “as of now, (is) happy,” Murray said.

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