Nicholas Malfitano Feb. 5, 2016, 11:35am


PHILADELPHIA – A judge from the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas has rendered a settlement enforcement motion moot in the case of a Philadelphia Police Department detective who claims he was retaliated against by his supervisor in violation of Pennsylvania’s Whistleblower Law.

Brian M. Puricelli had filed a motion to enforce settlement on Nov. 18, explaining the parties involved in this case agreed to a $17,500 settlement payment and a general release given from each side to the other. Instead, the defendants and their counsel allegedly sent the plaintiff and his counsel a different settlement agreement containing additional terms which had not been negotiated.

Puricelli’s motion argued the defense should pay the principal settlement cost, interest, cost of filing the motion and reasonable attorney’s fees.

On Wednesday, Judge Lisa M. Rau ordered the involved parties resolved their issues and Puricelli’s motion to enforce the settlement was moot. Terms were not disclosed.

In January 2012, plaintiff Det. Matthew Maurizio, made a report to then-Captain (now Inspector) Benjamin Naish about alleged wrongdoing and financial waste occurring in the Philadelphia Police Department, through a practice known as “icing.”

Icing is the act of holding people in police custody long after the law allows and/or when the law forbids this circumstance. Maurizio alleged this practice was done for purposes of coercing cooperation with investigations and/or confessions, and the financial waste results from payments to officers for both excess overtime and unnecessary police work.

Maurizio made similar reports to Naish in both 2013 and 2014.

On one occasion, Maurizio alleged he was directed to “ice” citizen Kimyatta Robinson, who later initiated legal action against the City of Philadelphia for monetary damages. The City denied Robinson’s allegations. But after learning Maurizio complained to Naish about icing and that Maurizio would testify truthfully in court regarding same, the City paid Robinson’s claim.

Maurizio claimed Naish disciplined him in retaliation by moving his shift, suspending him for five days and requiring him to use sick time to cover his absence, causing him a total alleged loss of $66,200 in both lost wages and benefits.

Maurizio argued Naish’s actions were “intentional and malicious” and violated Pennsylvania’s Whistleblower Law. Maurizio further argued he lost promotions, increased wages and higher pension benefits as a result of Naish’s alleged actions.

The plaintiff originally sought economic and compensatory damages in excess of $50,000, plus punitive damages, litigation costs and reasonable attorney’s fees in this case, plus reinstatement to his pre-retaliatory work shift and duties.

The plaintiff is represented by Puricelli in Newtown.

The defendants are represented by Cara E. Leheny of the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 140502462

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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