Day 8: Rankin v. City of Newark

Wrongful Termination
Settled June 2008

banner_police_prac_200: Newark Police Practices

In June 2008, the City of Newark paid $220,000 to police officer Kenneth Rankin, who alleged in an administrative case (No. CSV 07899-07) that he was wrongfully removed from the Newark Police Department, twice — once in 2001, allegedly due to political retaliation, and again in 2006. News accounts state that Rankin, whose father was a former police director in Newark, had joined the force in 1995, and had been "harassed and mistreated by superiors and political enemies of his father, who himself had been fired by former mayor Sharpe James." This campaign of harassment ended with his firing in 2001, which he appealed. While the appeal was pending, Rankin was arrested and put into a pretrial intervention program (PTI) for his alleged involvement in a prescription drug scam in another county. When he completed the PTI, he joined a police academy class, but was fired again, this time by the current police director. He then sued before the state Office of Administrative Law. In June 2008, Rankin and the City reached a settlement that awarded him $139,000 plus a retroactive salary increase, and an additional $81,000 for his attorneys' fees.

Note: None of Rankin's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. While the parties freely agreed to settle this case, all that is known for sure is that Newark, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Rankin over $220,000 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.

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