City Council has approved a six-figure settlement with former business administrator William Lutz in a civil lawsuit dating to 2014.
Lutz, fired by the city less than a year after his August 2013 appointment, will receive $350,000 in the settlement, according to the resolution passed by council at Tuesday’s meeting.
Vineland is on the hook for $120,000 of the cost, with the remaining $230,000 covered by the city’s insurance provider.
Council approved the settlement on a 5-0 vote.
“It is definitely a weight off our back, there’s no doubt about that,” Council President Paul Spinelli said following Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re never happy to settle because we really think we had a case, but because of the way laws are written and the way insurances run, unfortunately if we lose any aspect of the case, we lose a lot of money. So we took our insurance company’s advice and we settled for nominal fee considering the amount of money I’m sure litigation would have cost.”
Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci, one of the defendants in Lutz’s suit, declined to comment on the settlement.
The resolution passed by council states “all claims alleged against Anthony Fanucci have heretofore been dismissed” and goes on to say “the City of Vineland denies each and every allegation made against it in the Complaint and any settlement entered into is based upon reasons other than the merits of the claims against the City of Vineland.”
Lutz had sued for violation of his civil rights and defamation of character.
“Mr. Lutz is pleased that his case has ended in a settlement and he finally feels vindicated,” Lutz’s attorney Michelle Douglass told The Daily Journal in an email Tuesday.
Lutz’s brief tenure as Vineland’s business administrator was marked by controversy from the start.
He was nominated for the post in August 2013 by then-mayor Ruben Bermudez, who at the time touted the Collingswood resident’s “great background.” Lutz had most recently worked as records manager for the Camden Municipal Clerk’s Office before coming to Vineland. Council approved Lutz’s appointment later that month on a 3-2 vote, with Fanucci and current Council President Paul Spinelli the lone dissenters.