Tilton accepts $250,000 settlement with Galloway

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GALLOWAY – Former Galloway Township Clerk Lisa Tilton has agreed to a settlement of $250,000 in her suit against the township and a number of individuals.
Details were released by Township Clerk T.C. Kay Monday, Jan. 7.
The settlement includes no admission of subjecting Tilton to a hostile work environment, intimidation or retaliation.

Tilton is to receive her settlement through the Indian Harbor Insurance Company. The township will pay $75,000 of the $250,000, according to Mayor Don Purdy.

“It’s like a co-pay,” Purdy said Wednesday, Jan. 9. “It won’t affect the 2013 budget because we have more than that allocated for legal expenses.”

Purdy said he was happy to have the situation resolved.

“The people responsible for the lawsuit – none of them are working for the township any more,” he said. “Now the township can move forward.”

Tilton also confirmed that the parties “have resolved their differences.”

“With the various aspects of litigation promising to continue for many years, this resolution allows me to put an end to a costly dispute and achieve closure,” she said in a prepared statement. “Although no settlement can replace the pride and unique experiences afforded by my former employment as the township clerk, I am very satisfied with the outcome of this matter.” 

She spoke glowingly of the place where she worked and lived for about a decade.
“It is indeed a special place filled with kind and engaging citizens who care deeply about their community,” Tilton said. “I was also blessed to work with many truly caring and devoted dedicated public servants and extend my thanks and gratitude to them, as well as to so many other friends and family members whose unwavering support during this time in my life opened my eyes to the true meaning of loyalty and friendship.”

She said she was looking toward the future.

“I am excited to move forward both personally and professionally,” Tilton said, “and look forward to returning to a career in public service.”

The settlement holds Tilton responsible for any possible taxes and her legal fees.

It calls for the township manager to provide letters of recommendation to Tilton’s potential employers, and for Galloway to be held blameless for inquiries Tilton might direct to any other township worker or representative.

As a condition of the settlement, Tilton cannot apply for employment with the township nor exchange her services for monetary gain from the township.

Tilton had sought reinstatement as clerk in the lawsuit, which did not specify a dollar figure.
The settlement does not include a confidentiality order.

Details of the settlement were released nearly a month after the township passed a resolution to enter into the agreement. Signatures were needed from former Township Manager Steve Bonanni, former Councilman Dennis Kleiner and representatives from the Atlantic County Joint Insurance Fund.

Tilton filed the lawsuit in May, claiming her suspension and subsequent dismissal as clerk were the result of a vendetta involving Bonanni and Kleiner.

Former Township Solicitor Michael Blee was also named in the suit, regarding the release of Tilton’s personal information in an Open Public Records Act request.

Bonanni retired as township manager Jan. 31. Kleiner resigned from council effective June 25 after moving away. Blee resigned as solicitor after being appointed a Superior Court judge in June.

Defendants named in the suit were the Township of Galloway; former Township Manager Steve Bonanni, in his individual and official capacity; former Councilman Dennis Kleiner; former Township Solicitor Michael Blee, in both his capacity with the township and the law offices of Michael Blee; Mayor Don Purdy, in his individual and official capacity; Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola, in his individual and official capacity; current council members Tom Bassford, Jim Gorman, Dennis Kleiner; Brian Tyrrell and Whitney Ullman, each in their individual and official capacities; Township Clerk Thalia Kay, in her official capacity; Registrar of Vital Statistics Carol Hackney, in her official capacity; and former Acting Township Clerk Karen Bacon, in her official capacity.

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