Settled March 2010
Newark police officers Michael Kraynanski and Gary Bootes were responsible for the care of the dogs in the Newark Police Department canine unit. In a federal lawsuit (08-cv-938) filed in February 2008, they claim they were denied overtime for the time spent with the dogs during off-duty hours, specifically, the time spent "training, walking, feeding, grooming, [and] cleaning up after" the dogs.
On or about March 17, 2010, the City of Newark settled the claim by paying the two men $365,000 in taxpayer money.
The ACLU has learned that another potentially costly dog overtime is in the offing. On or about June 25, 2010, a group of six current and former police officers — James Kniepp, Joseph Martin, Kenneth Brown, William Tartis, Antonio Gonzalez and Donna Sapienza — filed a similar federal lawsuit (No. 10-cv-3254) alleging that they are owed overtime pay for the care of their dogs. That case remains pending.
Note: None of Kraynanski and Bootes' allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement likely states that the $365,000 payment does not constitute an admission of liability by Newark or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Newark, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Kraynanski and Bootes $365,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial — it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened — or what consequences, if any, came to the individuals accused in the suit.