By Betty Roccograndi
Luzerne County taxpayers are stuck with a $50,000 bill because of petty politics and a thirst for revenge.
And we have former Luzerne County Sheriff Barry Stankus to thank.
Last week, a federal judge ruled that the $380,000 a jury awarded to former deputy sheriff Norman Sallitt Jr. will stand.
Sallitt’s attorney, Barry Dyller, wasn’t as fortunate. He sought $238,058 in attorney’s fees, but Judge James M. Munley cut that amount in half, to just $120,000. Ahhhhhhh. Who said we need tort reform? Wonder what Dyller hopes to make defending the juveniles in the future “Kids for Cash” trial of the century?
Sallitt sued Stankus, Luzerne County and former chief deputy sheriff George Kamage in 2007. He claimed Stankus suspended him in 2004 because he had supported Stankus’ opponent for county sheriff. A jury concluded that Stankus and the county violated Sallitt’s right to due process by not allowing him a hearing or giving him a reason for the suspension. These incompetent county officials. A simple hearing may have spared county taxpayers from a costly lawsuit. What also didn’t help was Stankus shooting off his big mouth.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Kamage testified at the 2009 trial that Stankus told him he intended to “destroy people” and “ruin lives,” The Times Leader reported. This was our sheriff.
So even though the county’s insurance will cover the damages, we taxpayers owe the $50,000 deductible, a county official told The Times Leader. It’s amazing anybody even wants to insure Luzerne County these days.
And don’t think county attorneys worked for free fighting this lawsuit triggered by one hot head sheriff and his vow to destroy people and ruin lives.