Hoboken council to vote on $135k settlement for freedom of speech violation suit


The Hoboken City Council will vote on whether or not to approve a $135,000 settlement to a longtime political operative who filed a lawsuit alleging his freedom of speech was violated in October 2015. 

Screenshot from a video of the October 21, 2015 Hoboken City Council meeting edited by Hobokenhorse.com.
Screenshot from a video of the October 21, 2015 Hoboken City Council meeting edited by Hobokenhorse.com.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

In the federal lawsuit, David Liebler alleges that his civil rights were violated when he was ejected from the Hoboken City Council meeting on October 21st, 2015.

Liebler was escorted out of the meeting for discussing a news story about on then-Politicker NJ (now Observer NJ) that revealed emails between Stan Grossbard, former Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s husband, and members of the local housing authority.

“Just like I expected, just like we all knew, Stan Grossbard (says “stop it” as Council President Ravi Bhalla tries to cut him off) Stan Grossbard is the unofficial mayor of Hoboken,” Liebler said a the meeting in question.

While Bhalla, then the council president, now the mayor, continued to try and halt Liebler’s remarks, he had no interest in giving any ground.

“He has never been elected, and you know what, all of the emails are … stop, stop, stop, why are you interrupting me? I want the record to show I have at least 45 seconds left … under the First Amendment, I can’t speak about a blog article on PoliticalNewJersey.com [sic]?”

Hudson County View followed up on the story and revealed three email exchanges, in their entirety, between Grossbard and HHA board members.

Grossbard did make suggestions to the board, but they were not always heeded, evidenced by a March 11, 2013 rough draft resolution that would terminate then-HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia.

Garcia wasn’t terminated until August 4, 2014, where two of the three HHA commissioners Grossbard was communicating with had left the board, and the former Assemblyman scored a $700,000 settlement in that case.

Bhalla said that Liebler had no right to talk about private citizens at the dais, calling him a “disgrace” as police escorted him out.

His lawsuit also contends that “each of the individual council members have interfered and restrained Plaintiff’s right to free speech, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment and Section 1983.”

According to court documents, the case had wrapped up legal proceedings on February 14th and was to be voted on yesterday, however, that meeting was postponed until March 15th due to the nor’easter.

The city tried to have the case dismissed in July 2016 to no avail.

Three sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak on the matter, said the resolution is expected to pass without a hitch.

A copy of the full resolution, listed on the city’s website, $40,000 will be paid to Liebler and Brach Eichler LLC – Gormally’s firm – while $95,000 will be made payable to Brach Eichler LLC, meaning the vast majority of the settlement is going towards legal fees.

As is almost always the case with settling litigation, the city admits to no wrongdoing alleged in the lawsuit.

Another politically active Hoboken resident, Perry Belfiore, who used to sit on the HHA and has unsuccessfully run for council, was ejected from the same 2015 meeting and received a $51,000 settlement last year.

Belfiore, another frequent political opponent of Zimmer and Bhalla, also has a longstanding ethics complaint, which has been thrown out of court and revived several times, against the new mayor.


  1. As if it isn’t bad enough that Mayor 32% is working a job aside from his full time Mayor’s job, he is costing us tens of thousands of dollars in settlements. How much damage will he do now that he’s in charge? Can we really afford this guy?

    • The irony that Mr Side Hustle Bhalla who also refers to himself as a “Civil Rights” lawyer costs us $200,000 in awards for violating free speech
      Can’t understand why these large law firms plucked this obscure lawyer from his solo practice and saw the need to pay him so handsomely ?

  2. But… but… wait… Ravinder is a Civil Rights attorney! Oh unless it’s free speech against him. Ravi hates free speech. He like’s Nasty nancy’s but not Roman Brices. He likes when FAP attacks Mason’s husband but not when Liebler quoted a press article and Dawn’s brain AKA Stan Grossbard

  3. Boy it seems (IMHO ) that Stan’$ advice and behind the scenes directing of municipal policy costs Hoboken millions.
    $tan tells HHA Chairman Jake Stuiver how to fire the first Puerto Rican HHA Director
    Stan meets in a “back room” lunch with Carmelo Garcia where he was picked up on a “wire”
    Total $700,000 plus legal fees

    Ravi under orders prevents the public from mentioning Stan ( a public figure by being the husband of the mayor as he sat with her on stage and also directed policy on many matters and countless emails are available on any given number of City Hall matters are documented )
    $55,000 for Belfiore
    $135,000 for Liebler
    Then There’s
    Angel Alicea $800,000 ( approx)
    Jen Maier $50,000 (estimate)
    Re-vote on the 4th ward Race due to fraudulent VBM’s by the Zimmer campaign : $50,000 in 2007
    The Monarch 1000,000 in fees and we lost that too
    Thankfully we have The Horse who is exposing these blunders without The Horse we only have Sybil’s Cave and it’s left wing Bhalla Bots

    • Its impressive how the posts of the real men of Hoboken, like real men themselves, come in such contrasting sizes. This post was long but really manly. The other posts, while short, are really manly too. It’s impressive how the real men of Hoboken can write really short but manly posts as well as really long manly posts.

      • Damn Lindastan is really pissed off. Did u finish transitioning yet LindaSTAN? What’s your dress size?

      • Looks like PremiumFails and LindaStan are obsessed with manliness today
        You know what they say about those who call others unmanly or launch veiled homophobia ?
        Usually sadly repressed themselves or just plain old bigots

        We know certain cultures are deeply anti gay, but keep that to your places of worship and out of this discussion Linda and Preemy

        How’s the climate in LindaStan?
        Getting hot we hear!

        • Are you not familiar with the real men of Hoboken? The existence of this manly group was announced on this very site by a poster calling himself “syblitis” or something like that. I thought your posts were really manly so I assumed you were a member of the group. If you are not a member you should apply to join given how really manly your posts are.

          • Well, what’s the all-in cost for the Monarch? How much did Hoboken eat for that legal screw-up?

            Linda/ShadowStan – the floor is yours.

      • Boy Stan is now attacking people’s heights
        Maybe they all can’t be as handsome as Stan, but at least they aren’t causing Hoboken legal payouts
        Not to mention they wear much nice clothes
        That green Zimmer T from 2007 belongs in the rag pile