Galloway Township reached a settlement with former Township Clerk Lisa Tilton as it relates to a lawsuit Tilton filed in May of this year, but the terms of that settlement were not released Tuesday night, Dec. 11.
Township Council voted 6-0 with one abstension in favor of settling the suit. Councilman Jim McElwee, the only current councilman not named in the lawsuit, was the lone abstension.
Tilton was seeking a rescindment of the Settlement Agreement and Release agreed to on July 18 and, she claims, later violated by the township, and a reinstatement to the township with back pay and benefits, among other judgments.
Tilton claimed her suspension and later dismissal were the result of a vendetta between former Township Manager Steve Bonanni and former Councilman Dennis Kleiner.
Former Township Solicitor Michael Blee was also named in the suit, as it relates to the release of Tilton’s personal information in an Open Public Records (OPRA) request from a third party not involved in the dispute.
The township must certify the resolution passed following Tuesday night’s closed session, and representatives for Tilton, Kleiner, Blee and Bonanni must still sign the agreement. Kleiner, Blee and Bonanni were all represented by personal attorneys, as opposed to the attorney representing the township.
According to Mayor Don Purdy, an amount was agreed upon in the settlement, but he wouldn’t discuss the specifics.
“I’m happy it’s settled and the township can move on and move forward,” Purdy said.
In the lawsuit, Tilton touts her “exemplary employment” as a member of the township prior to the appointment of Bonanni as Township Manager in January, 2011.
As of Nov. 25, 2011, Tilton would’ve been up for reappointment and thus been eligible for tenure.
She alleged Kleiner had threatened this reappointment because, as a member of the Planning Board, she didn’t vote in favor of his preferred choice of engineering firm.
She claimed that, following a meeting with Bonanni and Blee, an investigation was conducted into the matter. She claims that although her allegations were substantiated, no action was taken against Kleiner.
She also claimed Bonanni subjected her to numerous and substantial sexually explicit comments, including comments about her body, her clothes and requests to engage in an extramarital affair.
She claims that Bonanni asked her to withdraw an OPRA request she filed against the Atlantic County Board of Elections. He then told her she was not allowed to have contact with any members of council, she said, calling the command unconstitutionally overbroad on its face and as applied.
She says he asked council members to sign an acknowledgement of this policy, and although many members of council declined to sign, none attempted to prevent Bonanni from disciplining her.
She alleges Bonanni subjected to her to three disciplinary actions between May 24 and June 10 for “pre-textual reasons.”
She claimed she was told if she didn’t resign from Planning Board, her five-day suspension would become a termination of her employment. She then resigned.
She called the July 18 special hearing a “sham hearing” designed to publicly embarrass herself and Hartman.
Bonanni resigned as township manager on Jan. 31 of this year. Kleiner resigned from council effective June 25. Blee was appointed to the position of Superior Court judge earlier this year, resulting in his resignation as township solicitor.
Tilton also filed tort claim notices against Atlantic County, the Atlantic County Board of Elections and Middle Township. The Middle Township tort was filed recently. She claims Middle Township discriminated against her in its hiring process for a new deputy clerk.