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Outgoing Township Clerk Lisa Tilton Files Tort Claim Against Galloway

All members of council are named with the exception of Mayor Keith Hartman.

Outgoing Clerk Lisa Tilton intends to sue Galloway Township, based on various counts of invasion of privacy, slander, libel and violation of a separation agreement she reached with the township on , among other claims, according to a tort notice obtained by Galloway Patch on Friday, Sept. 9.

Tilton will seek $3 million in damages, for past and future lost wages, emotional distress, mental anguish, damaged personal and business reputation, as well as attorney’s fees and costs, according to the notice. 

The claim also alleges violations of procedural due process and Rice Notice rights involving discussions about the position of the township clerk without notifying Tilton, and various violations of the state's Open Public Records Act.

The claim accuses the township of negligent and/or intentional violation of OPRA in releasing Tilton’s personnel records on Aug. 9 and 11.

False accusations against Tilton of threatening an appointee, malicious use of process and malicious abuse of process, and other charges are also addressed.

Tilton’s attorney, David Castellani, could not be reached for comment on Friday, Sept. 9. Township Solicitor Michael Blee did not return a call seeking comment on Friday, Sept. 9.

Tilton was suspended from her position as township clerk on , and reached settlement with the township on July 18 at the time of a scheduled special hearing to discuss her position. Tilton resigned as clerk, effective Oct. 3.

At the time, council agreed to indemnify Tilton in the event of any claims made in connection with her duties as registrar from June 13 to July 19, 2011.

The sides also agreed to mutual general releases, which would release the township, township council, Bonanni, township employees, counsel of the township and Tilton from any and all claims up to and including July 18.

Tilton also resigned as registrar of vital statistics, as well as from the planning board, a resignation that she has since rescinded.

, the current human resources director for the City of Wildwood, has been named the new township clerk, effective Oct. 4, at the same $64,429 salary Tilton earned in that position.

Earlier this summer, Tilton filed a separate tort claim against the , Atlantic County, the Galloway Township Republican League, and Galloway Township Republican League Municipal Leader Terry Lucarelli.

Those named in Tilton’s claim against the township include:

  • Deputy Township Clerk Carol Hackney;
  • Karen Bacon, who performs the duty of the clerk on a part-time basis;
  • Township Executive Secretary Diane Grams;
  • Township Manager Steve Bonanni;
  • Deputy Mayor Don Purdy;
  • Councilman Tony Coppola;
  • Councilman Tom Bassford;
  • Councilman Dennis Kleiner;
  • Councilman Jim Gorman; and
  • Councilwoman Whitney Ullman.

Deputy mayor 'not worried' about claims

Mayor Keith Hartman was the only member of council not included in the claim. Hartman recused himself from the July 18 hearing, at the request of Blee, Hartman said on Friday.

Hartman would not elaborate as to why he recused himself, only stating that he was asked to do so by Blee, and that he disagreed with the need for him to do so at the time.

“I could’ve rendered an impartial decision,” Hartman said. “I made several attempts to settle things amicably (between the township and the clerk). … I made attempts to reach an agreement without anyone being sued or hurt, but I’m just one person and I can’t do everything. I don’t control the decisions.

“I’m the only one who hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Tilton said Hartman "didn’t do anything improper that would warrant him being included with the members of the entity in which the claim was filed." She referred all other questions to her attorney.

Purdy said the exclusion of Hartman in the claim is curious.

“Isn’t it unusual that everyone on council is listed in the claim except the mayor?” Purdy said. “ … This shows a pattern of everybody getting sued. The list of people not (being sued) is shorter than the list of people that are.”

Purdy stated that while he was not “blown away” by the fact that Tilton was filing a suit, he was surprised. He added that he is “not worried about it.”

“It’s not on the top of my list,” Purdy said. “Of course we’re going to have to meet with our legal counsel to discuss it. It is what it is, and I’m going to move on in life.”

Neither Hartman nor Purdy were willing to discuss the specifics of the case, due to pending litigation.

Other members of council and Bonanni did not respond to messages seeking comment, or directed all comments to Blee.

Damon Taylor September 13, 2011 at 03:56 AM
say you - Are you willing to take another 7 years with the same old / same old ? If so then vote for the R's. In my mind , the D's look unified / full of new ideas - and having a plan...... elections have consequences. Galloway can't afford any more consequences.
Keep Galloway Green September 13, 2011 at 01:45 PM
How's this for credability....Vote For The Green Giant!.....Free Green Beans for everybody...& maybe I'll throw in a stick of butter!....lol......Somehow I find it hard to take this council seriously.
ccj September 14, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Can anyone explain this story? I read the above and still don't quite understand. Ms Tilton, the town clerk, seems to have done something she shouldn't have (maybe distribute voting district maps or something). As a result the town manager suspended her. After being on possibly forced vacation for most of the summer she resigned. She then sued the town for $3 Million. It seems like she had earlier sued the county's election board for the same amount months before. Is she just looking for some shut up and go away money or was she really harmed? If she was harmed was it the town or the county election board that harmed her? Lastly, how exactly does the mayor play into it? It seems that there are implications of an improper relationship, which I'm assuming is what's behind the mayor not continuing to run to take care of family. This might be the craziest town in the craziest state in the country. How does a nice little south Jersey town get so nutty?
Michael Guenther September 15, 2011 at 01:33 AM
Beats me. It all seems incredibly convoluted and toxic doesn't it. You need a scorecard and flow charts to keep track of everything somebody is hopping mad about. When did the politics in my home town get crazier than AC anyway? Maybe it will be for the best in the long run
Linda Titon October 15, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Does anyone know WHY Ms. Tilton resigned?

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