New York woman files multi-million dollar suit against county and officials

Monica Pierce of Horsehead, NY is suing various parties in regards to a search of her home in 2008 which she states was illegal.  Pierce is suing the Horseheads village police, Officers Seth Zawko, Richard Skebey, Mark Fitzgerald and Sgt. Daniel M. West, and Maggie Campanella, a county Child Protective Services caseworker.  She has recently added the county of Chemung to this extensive list.

In 2008, Pierce’s home was searched by Horsehead police after her daughter, daughter’s father and daughter’s stepmother informed the police of marijuana activity happening in the home.  According to the police, Pierce gave them permission to search the house and actually led them to the bedroom.  Monica is claiming she gave no such permission.

After the search, Pierce was charged with unlawful dealing with a child which was later dropped.

Now she is stating that her constitutional rights were violated and is seeking $1 million from each defendant in addition to punitive damages, attorney fees and other amounts.

In an interview with the Star Gazette, Chemung County attorney, Bryan Maggs, called the case “ridiculous”.

Municipalities deal with frivolous cases such as this one far too often.  The cost of defending these cases alone is exorbitant, then there is the actual cost of judgment or settlement.  Municipalities are forced to either raise taxes or cut services to cover the cost.

SUNY Albany is currently conducting a study to uncover the true cost of lawsuits to municipalities.  This information has never before been so thoroughly documented, although the extreme costs are often talked about; such as the recent speech by city counsel Cardozo highlighting the $561 million that NYC alone paid out for lawsuits in 2011.

Stay tuned for more on this groundbreaking study.


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