CONGRATULATIONS TO COMMUNITY YOUTH WORKER JOE PERRY HUDSON COUNTY TO PAY OUT MINIMUM OF $1,258,888.00
On March 13, 2014 the Appellate Division affirmed the jury trial verdict of February 17, 2011 awarding Joe Perry $406,792.00 in loss wages and damages calculated to the date of the verdict, and $852,096.00 in attorney's fees and cost. get decision
Joe Perry was employed as a Community Youth Worker at the Juvenile Justice Center in Hudson County from 2001 to 2007. During this period of time, the criteria for determining whether a juvenile would be released into the community in the "in-home detention" program (IHD) changed drastically. Originally, juveniles that were charged with serious offenses were not permitted into the program.
A serious offense that would disqualify a juvenile from the program included:
Beginning in 2005, in an attempt to relieve overcrowding in the detention center, the County started releasing the serious offenders on in-home detention(IHD). CYW Perry blew the whistle on this practice as a matter of public policy, in that it placed the community in danger. CYW Perry wrote a Memorandum to his supervisor which stated in pertinent part:
[m]any juveniles that have been convicted of serious crimes, such as homicide, aggravated assault (with deadly intent), possession of a firearm, and other similar acts, are referred to the [P]rogram, without much consideration as to the nature of their offenses.
We believe that juvenile offenders that have already exhibited aggressive and/or threatening behavior may cause a danger to the community, as well as to the [CYW] assigned to monitor their case. If a juvenile poses a threat during a home visit, [CYWs] have no protection against firearms or weapons attacks.
We request that greater consideration be given as to the nature of the offenses before referring a juvenile for placement in the [Program]. This action should be taken to ensure the safety of our staff as well as the community.
The County did not respond to the Memorandum and instead began a systematic pattern of disciplining Perry for minor infractions which ultimately led to Personnel Officer Anthony Staltari making the recommendation that Perry should be terminated.
Perry thereafter filed a whistle blowers civil suit in the Hudson County Superior Court, docket no. HUD-L-713-08. The matter thereafter went to trial and on February 17, 2011, the jury came back in favor of Perry and awarded him $406,792.00 in lost wages and damages. The County was also on the hook for Perry's attorney's fees and cost which totaled $852,096.00.
On March 2, 2011 the County released a statement to the Press where in they stated:
County officials said today that the jury verdict in Hudson County Superior Court and award are absurd, the judge should have dismissed the matter, and an appeal will be pursued aggressively.....
But Hudson County spokesman Jim Kennelly said it was "a botched trial that led to a terrible verdict which the people of Hudson County should not have to pay for."
It is unknown at this time exactly how much of the taxpayers monies were expended to aggressively pursue this "absurd" jury award after the "botched trial", but we will get the numbers and release them at a later date. We do agree that the Hudson County taxpayer should not have to pay for this blunder and hope that at some point in time, someone in authority at the County is going to stop the practice of wasting taxpayers monies on attorney's fees to defend law suits which could have easily been avoided had someone just addressed the original memorandum sent to them in 2005 by Mr. Perry.
The total award as of 2011 is $1,258,888.00 and does not include the cost of the Appeal handled and lost by Chasen Leyner or the cost of the defense of the original trial handled by Raymond Velasquez, Esquire.
When contacted, Mr Perry stated that he was happy it was over, he has been unable to obtain employment for the past 8 years because Hudson County has repeatedly black balled him to include having him removed from a civil service list.
Good Job Joe Perry! Congratulations and best of luck in the future and all you do!