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Bergen judge: No basis for reconsidering suit against Ridgefield

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

CLIFFVIEW PILOT FIRST: Michael Taffaro said he wasn’t surprised that a judge in Hackensack refused to reconsider his lawsuit against the borough of Ridgefield and Mayor Anthony Suarez claiming he was deliberately arrested as payback for a dispute.

“I expected this denial and will file an appeal,” Taffaro told CLIFFVIEW PILOT after the decision was released this week. “There is no way that my arrest for signing an OPRA form is legal.”

Bergen County Superior Court Judge Lisa Perez-Friscia said Taffaro’s request for reconsideration wasn’t based on something she might have missed or ignored or new evidence that arose – but simply the fact that he wasn’t happy with her decision.

Taffaro needed sufficient basis in law and not simply the desire to take another crack at it, she ruled.

Taffaro, of Moonachie, said Suarez had police obtain the arrest warrant at the same time he was fighting in probate court over his mother’s estate with his sister, Susan Taffaro.

Suarez represented Susan Taffaro, a borough planning board secretary who was also his neighbor and close friend.

Taffaro first sued the borough, saying that police strip-searched him, violating his civil rights. The case was moved to federal court, where a judge ruled that the arrest warrant was valid.

Taffaro then filed the state suit in Hackensack in 2009, accusing Suarez of false arrest and malicious prosecution.

However, Perez-Friscia said the U.S. District Court judge’s ruling nullified his argument. She also rejected Taffaro’s additional claim of emotional distress, because he “failed to produce any medical reports” and couldn’t prove that Suarez or the borough had any “improper motives” by having him arrested.

Taffaro was requesting documents on the property from Ridgefield when he affirmed on a state Open Public Records Act form that he had never been convicted of a crime. However, a judge earlier had convicted him of contempt-of-court in connection with the property fight.

In her latest decision, Perez-Friscia said a judge can reconsider a case if a plaintiff shows that something was mistakenly ignored or overlooked or if new or additional information turns up that couldn’t have been provided the first time around.

Taffaro contended that the OPRA statute is overbroad and was “perverted into a cause for arrest,” which the judge said doesn’t meet either requirement for the request.

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