ATLANTIC CITY — A former city police chief has settled his lawsuit with the city for $2.3 million, following allegations he was wrongfully demoted from his position.
The settlement, which city and state officials confirmed Wednesday, was reached at a conference with Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez on Aug. 14 and was approved last week.
City Council President Marty Small said the $2.3 million was negotiated and approved by the state. Any time there’s a settlement of that caliber, Small said, it’s a “hit” to the city and taxpayers.
“This was a case that’s been going on for a while. I’m just glad that we could put this behind us and move forward,” Small said.
An attorney representing former Chief John Mooney could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Mooney’s lawsuit alleged former Mayor Lorenzo Langford and his administration retaliated against Mooney in 2010, planning to demote him as chief to try to cut city costs. Mooney resigned before his demotion in May 2010 and sued the city for breach of contract.
In a 2013 trial, Mooney testified to a series of incidents in 2009 and 2010 that he said took place during Langford’s administration, including possibly illegal behavior by city officials, such as the then-mayor and then- public safety director.
A jury found in 2013 that his demotion was retaliation for whistleblowing on city administration and awarded him more than $3.7 million. A state appellate court later ruled the city did not have to pay Mooney.
The litigation has spent several years at various levels of the justice system, Small said.
In a statement on the settlement, Department of Community Affairs spokeswoman Lisa Ryan said the case was going to be retried with the possibility of a new jury awarding more money.
“The lawsuit brought by Chief Mooney was one of several matters and problems created by prior city administrations and which unfortunately need to be paid for today,” Ryan said. “The settlement reached with Chief Mooney was a significant reduction from what the jury awarded him originally.”