For Every Mystery Solved in Newtown, a New Mystery Appears

Newtown Board of Supervisors announced a settlement with Chief Anderson. But taxpayers still don't know the claims that led to this settlement.

At Monday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, residents learned of a “confidential” settlement and the resignation of Police Chief Dennis Anderson.  Announced by Board of Supervisors Chairman Joseph Catania, township insurance provided a settlement of $175,000 to settle Anderson’s claims against the township. So, I guess it isn’t really a confidential settlement, or rather, only the reason why the insurance company determined they would pay out a significant amount of money is a secret.

Curiously, Chairman Catania stated that as a result of this settlement, which included Anderson’s resignation, the township had also settled the township’s claims against the now former chief.  This certainly begs the question, what were the claims that were made by each of these parties? Although the settlement may be secret, the claims should be a matter for public record. In addition, information about the insurance coverage which paid the settlement as well as township legal bills associated with the settlement are public record.

So, one mystery has been solved and new mysteries have appeared. I think residents can come to their own conclusions about this settlement. First, it certainly has been my understanding that insurance companies are not in the business of significant and timely settlements unless they believe that their exposure for additional money is great. 

I think the settlement with Chief Anderson clearly suggests that the insurance company feared a greater amount would be due to Anderson if his claims went forward. Second, it appeared to me that the supervisors wanted residents to think that this settlement did not cost the taxpayers. I found that hard to believe, so I sent an email to the township manager after the meeting to ask about the township’s insurance coverage. Here is my email question to Manager Mike Trio and the response that immediately followed from Catania: 

Policy calls for a $5000.00 deductible that has not been charged or billed as yet. Insurance Company paid their own attorney, and Twp paid its attorneys. The exact amounts paid are not totaled as yet 

Joe Catania

Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 27, 2012, at 11:22 AM, "Patti Wilson" <pawils@comcast.net> wrote:

Good Morning,

       I have a couple of additional questions as a result of the information provided last night about the township's insurance coverage. I believe that Rich said that the township's general liability coverage issued by Hartford insurance is paying the settlement--did I hear this correctly--if not, what coverage/company is paying the settlement?  Does the policy have a deductible that had to be met?  If there was a deductible cost, what was the deductible paid? What are the policy limits?  Finally, did the insurance company pay all legal costs associated with this settlement and the negotiation of the settlement?  If not, what costs did the township incur? 

                                 Thank you--Patti Wilson 

I’m still waiting for the insurance policy information, but residents now know that the taxpayers will be paying the $5,000 deductible as well as attorney’s fees. The notion that a deductible would be billed to the township is ludicrous. Taxpayers will have to pay the deductible.

Additionally, at last night’s budget workshop, it was announced that Chief Anderson had filed for unemployment as of October 1. I guess the supervisors had already decided in October to settle with Chief Anderson? It seemed that there was some confusion as to whether Chief Anderson would continue to collect or would have to return that which he already collected. Should Anderson be entitled to unemployment compensation, township residents will also pay this cost because the township is self insured. 

Have township officials learned from this experience? Given this settlement as well as the announcement last night that a trial with former township manager Jim Sheldrake is scheduled for next year, I sure hope they have learned. Otherwise, taxpayers will pay the price.

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L. Ferguson December 02, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Patti Wilson December 02, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Your statement is unfortunately for taxpayers, oh so true. In this case, taxpayers have paid township legal bills, an insurance deductible, salary while the chief was on leave and vacation pay. In the case of Jim Sheldrake, the former township manager, now suing the township, for some reason, the township has not turned this case over to insurance. So, taxpayers will be responsible for all costs associated with the Sheldrake litigation. I wonder why the Chief's case went to the insurance company but not Sheldrake's case? Thank you for your comment.
Laurie December 02, 2012 at 11:57 PM
I, too, would like to see the policy limits. As far as paying the deductible goes, if the Township of Newtown is indeed the named insured, then we, as taxpayers, are paying that deductible. Regardng Sheldrake, his case may be excuded under the General Liability insurance. I would also like to know how the Township is "self-insured" on the unenployment compensation issue - check your paystubs. I know that a certain amount of my pay is deducted for Unemployment Insurance, and I would like to think it is that way for Township employees. I'm sure that not one of them will share a paystub with the public, so we may be kept in the dark about all of this, which is NOT allowed under the Sunshine Laws. Residents need to attend more Township meetings to make our voices heard and demand answers that we, as tax payers, DESERVE!
Laurie December 03, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Apologies for the spelling errors in my last post. It's been a long day.
Patti Wilson December 03, 2012 at 12:44 PM
If a township employee is eligible to collect unemployment, they apply through the state, but then the township is charged for the entire cost of what the employee collects. This is because the township does not pay into unemployment. This means that all unemployment compensation costs are paid by the taxpayers. At the Budget workshop, it was announced that Chief Anderson had made an unemployment claim as of October 1st. There seemed to be some confusion among township officials whether the Chief had collected unemployment and whether he was eligible to continue collecting. If that is the case, taxpayers will pay for it. In addition to the $5000 deductible, taxpayers are paying the township's attorneys' fees associated with the Chief's claim.


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