Jersey City cop sues city for failing to answer OPRA regarding officers tuition reimbursements

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A Jersey City police officer is suing the city and the city clerk for failing to respond to an Open Public Records Act request seeking documentation for officers who received tuition reimbursement from the department since 2014, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.

By Corey McDonald/Hudson County View

Joseph Cossolini, a Jersey City police officer for more than a decade, claims the city failed to respond in a timely fashion to an OPRA request in which he sought salary and payroll information from the police department.

“Defendants failed to respond” to his request and “repeatedly exploited the extension process,” his lawsuit, filed by attorney Michael Rubas, reads.

His OPRA request, filed on July 9th, sought police department tuition reimbursement records from 2014 to 2019, “including but not limited to the names of the officers by seniority, amounts reimbursed to each officer and schools attended.”

Jersey City police officers who enroll at college or university may be entitled to tuition reimbursement, but officers with the most seniority have top priority.

Over the course of seven weeks, the city notified Cossolini four times that they needed a two-week extension for his OPRA request, which is still yet be fulfilled, according to the suit.

The lawsuit also alleges that the city violated OPRA and the common law, and is requesting that the city send the documents requested and award statutory attorney fees and the cost of suit.

In recent months, Jersey City has had some legal troubles over failing to comply with the OPRA.

In August, a Hudson County Superior Court ordered the city to turn over thousands of emails that were originally requested a year before to Kushner Companies, run by the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

That proceeding was contingent to a federal lawsuit between the two entities over a tax break that has since been dismissed.

And, in June, another Hudson County judge order the city pay nearly $10,000 to a man who was denied a list of dog licenses in the city.

Rubas declined to comment further on the lawsuit, while a city spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

 

Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_