A Hoboken dad who beat a criminal case alleging child endangerment has filed a 14-count lawsuit against the city and police department in Hudson County Superior Court alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, slander, violation of his civil rights, and much more.
“In or about the fall of 2020, N.M., who was five (5) years old at the time and has respiratory issues, was having difficulty breathing with his mask in his school at the Brandt School in Hoboken, New Jersey (the “School”),” the lawsuit begins.
“As a result, Plaintiffs made their displeasure with the mask mandate at the School known.”
According to the suit, filed yesterday, Marshalek said he spoke out against Mayor Ravi Bhalla advocating for a fine for residents who did not wear face masks due to the pandemic (the policy was eventually voted down by the city council) at the August 20th, 2020 board of education meeting.
He also sent emails to district officials on the subject, to the dismay of Board of Education Trustee Malani Cademartori, the suit notes.
On October 15th, of the same year, Police Officer Christopher LaBruno allegedly prevented N.M. from entering the school since he did not have a mask, prompting him to contact his supervisor, then-Lt. Melissa Gigante (who retired last month).
Gigante allegedly told him his son would have to be home schooled if he could not wear a face mask, to which they left and went home. Gigante then called the Hoboken PD Mobile Crisis Unit to check up on them.
There was no answer when they knocked on the front door, prompting Gigante to call the Emergency Services Unit in case they had to make a forced entry into the home.
“Gigante herself went to Plaintiffs’ residence and attempted to enter, opening the front door and going into the foyer. However, the second door into the residence was closed and locked,” the suit says, noting she testified that she decided not to open the second door forcefully, despite feeling she was within her rights to do so.
“Instead, without just cause and with malicious intent, Gigante called the DCPP because she allegedly believed there was ‘neglect of education’ due to a five (5) year old missing one day of school, which he was not legally required to attend.”
That evening, Gigante emailed Marshalek and demanded to speak with him, to which he answered that they had nothing to talk about, the court filing asserts.
The next day, she again called the New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency and then-Det. Sgt. Dennis Figueroa when N.M. did not go to school.
“Shortly thereafter, and, upon information and belief in coordination with the Police Department, Plaintiffs alleged ‘neighbor,’ Cademartori, called LaBruno. She reported false and inflammatory irrelevant hearsay information over a month old about Plaintiffs,” the lawsuit states.
“Cademartori gave this information knowing that it was false or at the very least likely false, and with the specific malicious intent of harming Michael. Cademartori falsely alleged that Faikum [Michael’s wife] complained to a third-party (who was never questioned) that Michael was verbally abusive and controlling of the couple’s assets.”
Eventually, this led to Gigante calling Capt. Gino Jacobelli and he signed off on a forced entry into their residence on Garden Street.
“Thereafter, on October 16, 2020, just over twenty-four (24) hours after her interaction at the School with Michael, Gigante and dozens of heavily armed officers, including SWAT team members under the command of [Carlos] Clavijo, broke down the door to Plaintiffs’ home,” the suit explains.
“Officers stuck a gun in Faikum’s terrified face and demanded she leave her own home, ordering her to go to a waiting ambulance. At that point, officers did not search the entire residence or remove Michael or N.M., who were hiding terrified in Faikum’s meditation room. Rather, they called in more officers, including the ESU under the command of Zeszotarski, and closed Plaintiffs’ entire block.”
The suit also contends that then Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante, now the public safety director, arrived and took control of the situation, as did Bhalla, who approved of the situation.
“Police Officers smashed windows, destroyed a glass patio door and two exterior front hallway doors, ransacked Plaintiffs’ home and caused other destruction of Plaintiffs’ property,” the suit reads.
“They even stepped on and destroyed N.M.’s favorite toy, which he is still upset about. The also took Michael’s phone and deleted videos (which would be evidence) from it. During this entire incident until the point where Michael was forcibly removed from his own residence, no communication was made between Michael and the Defendants.”
Last month, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mitzy Galis-Menendez granted Marshalek’s motion to suppress evidence, indicating that the situation did not meet the state’s emergency aid doctrine, as only HCV reported.
The criminal case, which was being handled by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, was then expectedly dismissed before the end of August.
The lawsuit also alleges negligence, trespass, harassment, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and civil conspiracy.
As a result, Marshalek, who filed a tort claim in January 2021, is seeking incidental and consequential damages, statutory penalties, attorneys’ fees, punitive damages, costs of suit, and any other relief as the court deems just and equitable.
All of the aforementioned people mentioned in the lawsuit are named as defendants, along with about a dozen other police officers and Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez.
A Hoboken spokeswoman did not return an email seeking comment, though the city typically does not comment on pending litigation.