Village trustees approve potential payout to PCPD officer suing over discrimination. Legal strategy aims to move litigation along while controlling exposure to legal fees.
By Sarah Wolpoff
Thursday, July 28, 2022 3:32 AM
Court cases are notoriously slow, but murmurs of movement—albeit small—have emerged in a lawsuit of public interest against the Village of Port Chester.
In October 2021, Port Chester Police Officer Melissa Rosario filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the Village, the police department, and Mayor Luis Marino. Represented by Laine Armstrong, a lawyer with the New York City-based firm Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys, she claims in detailed legal documents that all parties are complicit in creating a harmful, toxic environment for women on the force, denying her career advancement opportunities based on her gender and retaliating against her when she brought such issues to their attention.
Filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in New York City, the case has been ongoing with predictably little movement toward a solution since October.
However, at an untelevised agenda workshop meeting on Tuesday, July 26, the Port Chester Board of Trustees took a small action—moving to give their legal representation, hired by the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal, authority to submit an offer of judgement in the amount of $65,000 to Rosario.
The board was forced to make the decision publicly because the expenditure of taxpayer monies is at stake, though no discussion was had over the unanimous vote.
The offer of judgement “is intended as a means to encourage a resolution of litigation and to control exposure for attorneys’ fees,” the resolution states. If and when the notice is submitted to
Rosario and her representation, they will have two weeks to accept or decline the proposition. If she accepts, she receives the payout, and the case is over. If she doesn’t, the litigation process will continue.
However, if Rosario does not accept the offer and at the end of the day, the judgement is less favorable than the proposed terms—she may be responsible for some of the Village’s legal costs.
Per the original lawsuit, Rosario is seeking a promotion to detective in addition to $1.1 million in damages. If nothing changes and a settlement cannot be attained, a trial could commence, but likely not for a long time.
Court records indicate depositions are due to court by the end of October, fact discovery is due by
the end of December, and expert discovery must be submitted by mid-February 2023.