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What you need to know for 03/18/2018

Schenectady settles 2 lawsuits for nearly $1 million


Schenectady settles 2 lawsuits for nearly $1 million

The Schenectady City Council approved the settlement of two claims during a meeting Monday night tot
Schenectady settles 2 lawsuits for nearly $1 million
Jennifer Costa is shown in this 2013 photo.

The Schenectady City Council approved the settlement of two claims during a meeting Monday night totaling nearly $1 million.

The council agreed to settle lawsuits filed by veteran firefighter Jennifer Costa for $550,000 and Union College student Broderick Shea for $440,000, according to multiple sources with detailed knowledge of the settlements.

Costa alleges she was passed over for promotions as a result of harassment. She also claims she received two separate death threats at the Fire Department.

Costa was terminated from the department on Aug. 23, according to Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico. He declined to discuss her departure from the department further.

Schenectady police arrested Shea during last year’s rowdy Union College hockey championship celebration. Shea alleges he was shoved and tackled from behind by police after committing no crime and posing no threat to others.

Shea also claims he suffered a facial injury when an officer grabbed him “by the head and hair and violently smashed his face into the concrete pavement,” according to the lawsuit.

Although the two settlements total $990,000, the sum would not come out of the city’s budget. The city is only required to meet a deductible with its insurance company of up to $75,000, Falotico said.

But the payouts could result in a higher insurance rate for the city next year. The city is not admitting to any wrongdoing.

“We have a deductible, so depending on the case, if the settlement is high then we will reach the deductible amount,” Falotico said. “It also depends on the type of case. For police cases, like excessive force claims, it’s $75,000. The deductible includes the cost of our legal defense.”

Costa claims she was the victim of sexual harassment at the Schenectady Fire Department and also alleges that the complaints went uninvestigated and others retaliated against her for filing complaints.

Also, a threat was allegedly left in her locker in September 2011 and again in her boot in February 2014 “of a picture of a face with a bullet in its head,” according to the suit. Costa says she was placed on an informal leave of absence after the second incident.

Costa claims in the lawsuit that she was overlooked for the position of lieutenant several times in 2012 and 2013 despite being qualified for the job. She also claims the city violated the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Shea was arrested during the April 12, 2014 celebration of Union College’s national hockey championship. He was charged, the case later being dismissed, with inciting to riot and menacing, misdemeanors, and disorderly conduct, a violation.

The lawsuit claims Schenectady police officers slammed Shea into the pavement, causing him to sustain a concussion and a cut to his skull that required 21 stitches and plastic surgery to close.

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