NORTON: The city has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit with fired Norton police officer Nicholas Matheny for $15,000.
In the suit, Matheny had accused the police chief, a sergeant and the city administrator/safety director of discrimination and of firing him because of his Muslim faith.
He said in the suit there was a shift in attitude toward him after he passed out his wedding invitations to colleagues in the police department that revealed his faith. He alleged he went from being described as an excellent patrolman to someone so bad that he had to be terminated.
Matheny was fired in November 2010.
Norton Law Director Pete Kostoff denied any wrongdoing on the part of the city and called the matter a “nuisance settlement.”
“This case was only settled because the insurance company pushed the city to do it versus the amount of litigation cost and legal fees, which would have been too excessive,” Kostoff said. “This was settled without any acknowledgement on the city’s part of any wrongdoing by the city or by any of the supervisors or management of the police department.”
Kostoff said the city’s investigation did not uncover any evidence in support of any of the allegations.
A civil suit is pending on unfair labor practices. Matheny is seeking job reinstatement.
Matheny’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, a former federal prosecutor and Cleveland law director, said the settlement agreement is “strictly for Matheny’s emotional damages associated with the way he was treated.”
Chandra said he will continue to litigate Matheny’s state court matter, which he described as a union grievance.
“In that case, Matheny continues to seek his back pay and benefits and reinstatement,” Chandra said.
Matheny was injured in the line of duty twice in less than two months in late 2009 and early 2010. In the second incident, involving an assault by a man resisting arrest, the officer briefly was hospitalized.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.