Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner and Freeholder Frank Formica at Atlantic City Country Club honoring the Avanzar heroes in May.

A Superior Court judge on Friday reaffirmed the decision to dismiss Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson and Freeholder Frank Formica from a lawsuit that alleges gender discrimination, retaliation and other illicit behavior.

In his decision, Cumberland County Superior Court Judge James R. Swift denied a motion to reverse the earlier dismissal, which came in July, according to a news release from county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner, as well as prosecutors Cary Shill and Mario Formica, are still named in the suit. Attorneys for the Prosecutor’s Office and the individual prosecutors did not respond to a request for comment.

“This is the second time the judge has dismissed this case,” Levinson said in a statement. “There was no justification for this complaint, yet our taxpayers must foot the bill to fight these frivolous allegations at a cost of more than $25,000.”

The whistleblower lawsuit was filed by former Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton, former Lt. Heather McManus and current Assistant Prosecutor Donna Fetzer.

“We are not surprised that Judge Swift denied our motion asking him to reconsider his decision on this issue,” Michelle Douglass and Philip Burnham, the lawyers representing the women, said in a statement. “We believe that an appellate court would rule differently than Judge Swift did and are considering going that route.”

The lawsuit, originally filed Jan. 10, named the Prosecutor’s Office, the county, Tyner, Shill and Mario Formica. It was dismissed less than two weeks later and refiled to include Levinson and Frank Formica, Mario’s brother.

“The county has no authority over whom the state appoints as prosecutor and who that prosecutor hires, fires, promotes or demotes,” Levinson said, “all of which is well known to the plaintiffs.”

The women allege Tyner demoted high-ranking women while giving men raises, paid newly hired women at a lower rate, covered up complaints of gender discrimination and spoke in a derogatory fashion about women in general, according to the suit.

The suit also alleged Levinson and Frank Formica “refuse to look deeper at gender bias and systemically devalue plaintiffs, as women, in the workplace” and “have publicly announced their support of the male defendants even before this lawsuit was filed and even before all the facts were and/or have been disclosed.”

In addition to allegations of gender discrimination, the three women claim Tyner was involved in mortgage fraud, failed to investigate a claim that a police officer was leaking confidential information about the April Kauffman murder case and failed to tell defense counsel about the possible leak, fired employees to hire his brother and refused to investigate after an assistant prosecutor exchanged advice via texts with a defendant in a pending domestic violence case.

Contact: 609-272-7241


Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Load comments