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SALEM Official announces city lawsuit policy



Published: Wed, September 19, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city is working to resolve several complaints about a skating park.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- The city may begin defending itself in some future lawsuits instead of asking its insurance company to handle the disputes.

City Law Director C. Brooke Zellers told council of the new administrative policy at the body's Tuesday meeting, during which he also explained the terms of a recent court settlement.

Zellers said the city settled a $1 million lawsuit several weeks ago filed in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court in October 2000 by a Rogers woman. She alleged that police used excessive force when arresting her in October 1999 in a tavern on South Ellsworth Avenue.

The city settled the matter by agreeing to a $7,000 payment to the woman. The city is not, however, acknowledging any liability in the matter, Zellers said.

The settlement will be paid by the city's insurer, but the city must satisfy a $1,000 deductible.

Future cases: In any future lawsuits, particularly ones the city thinks are frivolous, it may elect to defend itself to avoid possible pressure by the insurance company to settle, Zellers said.

Insurers sometimes urge settlements if they decide fighting a suit in court wouldn't be worth the cost involved, he explained. He added that the city also will weigh countersuing, if officials think it has been slapped with a frivolous lawsuit.

Zellers said the city must be willing to defend itself to "avoid being a punching bag."

Skating park: Patrons of the city's new skateboard and in-line skating park in Waterworth Memorial Park will have to clean up their language and keep the noise down.

Councilman Walter Bezeredi, D-4th, said the city has received complaints about foul language and loud music since the park opened Sept. 8.

Signs will be erected advising users to refrain from such behavior, Bezeredi said.

He noted that, overall, remarks about the $43,000 facility have been positive.




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