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The Lakewood Police Department has just been slammed with a lawsuit due to a crash allegedly caused by Traffic Safety Officer Alex Guzman.

According to the Complaint just filed in New Jersey Superior Court in Ocean County:

On July 26, 2021, Little Egg Harbor resident Shirley Darbo was driving on New Hampshire Avenue in Lakewood approaching the intersection with Route 70. As she approached the intersection, the traffic light was green, in her favor, and so she proceeded to drive across Route 70.

Officer Guzman, driving an unmarked police car, was speeding eastbound on Route 70 and, at the intersection with New Hampshire Avenue, he drove through the red light and struck Darbo's vehicle, which caused her to sustain serious injuries.

The serious injuries from the crash have caused her to sustain "permanent loss of earnings, has incurred or in the future will incur expenses for treatment of said injuries, has been caused and in the future will be caused great pain and suffering, has been deprived and in the future will be deprived of her right to the enjoyment of life to her great loss and damage."

Guzman was not involved in an active pursuit of a suspect or in a high-speed chase, but rather was responding to some other purported emergency. Even if he was, as he claims, involved in an active pursuit or a high- speed chase, Guzman violated the New Jersey Vehicular Pursuit Policy of 1993 as well as the specific commands of superiors and standing orders of the Lakewood Police Department with respect to emergency response protocols. Therefore he is not cloaked with immunity under the Tort Claims Act.

Guzman exhibited willful misconduct, bad faith, gross negligence and extreme recklessness because, among other reasons:

At the time of the crash, he was knowingly driving an unmarked car through a red light at a high rate of speed; and he was using his cell phone at the time of the accident. He was knowingly and recklessly speeding when there was no need for such urgency at a busy Township intersection; and he knowingly and recklessly failed to ensure that other traffic, including cross- traffic on New Hampshire Avenue, had come to a stop before proceeding through the intersection.

Guzman also operated his unmarked vehicle in a careless, unreasonable and negligent fashion, in that he:
(a) caused Darbo to sustain personal, injuries of a temporary and permanent nature;
(b) failed to maintain a proper lookout at all times;
(c) failed to keep said motor vehicle under safe and proper control at all times;
(d) failed to give proper and adequate warning of his intentions;
(e) failed to apply brakes at a proper time;
(f) failed to operate his vehicle safely under the attending roadway conditions;
(g) failed to avoid an accident;
(h) failed to keep his vehicle in safe and proper condition;
(i) failed to operate said vehicle properly;
(j) violated the Motor Vehicle Statutes of the State of New Jersey;
(k) failed to maintain a safe distance under the attending circumstances; and
(l) disregarded the rights of others and was otherwise careless.

The 4-count suit names as Defendants the Police Department and Officer Guzman.

The suit also names as Defendants the as-yet-unidentified business entities and individual persons who; (a) caused the emergency which Guzman claims he was responding to; (b) hired, trained, supervised, retained, assigned, managed, monitored, or otherwise were responsible for Guzman's conduct. These individuals will be named in a future amendment to the Complaint once their identities are learned through Discovery.

The Complaint alleges that "all of the defendants were negligent, grossly negligent, careless and extremely reckless in their actions and in their operation of one or more motor vehicles, and their conduct exhibited a lack of good faith and willful misconduct.

"Such actions and conspiracy in furtherance of same perpetrated by the Defendants served to deprive Plaintiff of the rights and privileges of the United States Constitution and sections 1983 and 1988 of 42 U.S.C In particular, Plaintiff was deprived of her right to due process of law, of her right to happiness, to liberty, to be free from physical injury and the unwarranted deprivation and destruction of her property.

"The Police Department and the Township, have as a matter of public policy and practice with deliberate indifference, failed to adequately hire, train, retain, supervise, discipline, sanction or otherwise direct their police officers in their respective duties, and to the requirements mandated by law and applicable to this and similar situations at the scene in this case, regarding the protection of the constitutional rights of citizens, and more importantly wholly failed to take appropriate corrective and remedial actions with regard to Constitutional abuses based upon past occurrences and acts and omissions of the individual officers and the Department as a whole.

"Such policy, practice and deliberate indifference has served to sanction the police officers’ unlawful conduct as described above and was a proximate cause of the violations of Plaintiff’s rights on the date of the occurrence complained of."

The lawsuit, which was filed in New Jersey Superior Court in Ocean County by Cherry Hill Attorney Mark S. Guralnick, Esq., seeks for damages, together with pre- judgment and post-judgment interest and attorney’s fees.

The Police Department and Officer Guzman have 35 days to formulate an Answer to the Complaint.

The Lakewood Police Department is currently involved in multiple lawsuits.

As previously reported here on FAA News, Freehold Township resident Ujjwala Jain is suing the police department due to a crash allegedly caused by Officer Matthew T. McKee while driving a police department vehicle on Route 88 in Brick Township in a non-emergency situation.

Additionally, the Township is litigating a federal lawsuit filed by Lakewood resident Courtney Griffin who charges he was "deprived of his civil rights when officers pursued, detained, surrounded and fought with him in the street on the night of December 18th, 2019."

As more recently reported here on FAA News, the Police Department is also being sued in federal court by Lakewood resident Nelson Mawalla who is appealing the Police Department's refusal to grant him a gun license.

Township taxpayers will be on the hook to pay for the Township's legal fees incurred from fighting these lawsuits.

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Anonymous said...

Guzman is extremely connected with the Police Chief and the Township, so I'm sure that one day, somehow, someway, all this will go away, with the Taxpayers footing the bill

Uh oh... said...

TLS just loves posting pictures of Guzman, who is very well connected with Chief Meyer, and Menashe and Lichtenstein. I am "sure" that TLS will post the full story, because they are so well known for transparency...

Anonymous said...

He's the cop that every chaveirim guy and macher with a radio kisses up to

Anonymous said...

Guzman's stepson Victor Lugo was killed in a major car crash several years ago

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that a person was hurt, but this is much ado about nothing

Said in other words,based on what is being alleged , even if 100% true. Officer Guzmon was doing his job and unfortunately got into an accident.Now an ambulance chaser law firm is suing on contingency and is looking to get a settlement from Lakewood Townships insurance, as ambulance chasers always try to do.They have to make it more drantic because there are protections for police officers on the job, and the bar of negligence/intent that needs to be proven is higher than that of regular people.

The only thing concerning here is, that this is proof that there is a problem that the bar of intent that needs to be proven is not high enough. While arguably setting the bar higher would take away protections from regular citizens damaged by government employees and police officers, a better way of keeping ambulance chasers from exploiting the system needs to be found, as is obvious from all these lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

And two of his sons are lakewood cops. This guy is a parsha. Dig further and you will see that guzman is a liability

Anonymous said...

why is the person who had an emergency at fault for the cops actions???
and the person that tarined him???

Anonymous said...

Listen Lakewood Police are abusing the law period! Because they know they will get away with it!
It is not true in America anyone is above the law! Police can be sued all the time, and definitely if you got good lawyer
You will win the case!