A judge dismissed a “sexting” lawsuit against Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis by a former city employee, indicating that discovery in the case was “on a road to nowhere.”
By Corey McDonald/Hudson County View
The lawsuit was dismissed for “failure to provide discovery” and “failure to comply with numerous court orders,” according to a February 3rd ruling on an order to dismiss with prejudice by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Espinales-Maloney.
“Plaintiff has not provided full discovery and her violations of the court’s orders are ‘long standing’ and ‘egregious,’ and at times appear to border on willful,” she wrote.
” … It is concerning that the phone containing the messages at the heart of this case cannot be found. In short, arduous and tortured discovery production is in the rearview and further delay lies ahead. Discovery in this case is on a road to nowhere.”
The scandal was first brought to court in January 2018 by Stacie Percella, who worked as a “deputy register/keyboard clerk” from 2001 until her termination in December 2016.
She originally brought her allegations to light during a city council meeting in May 2017, claiming that Davis abused his office by sending her sexually charged text messages while she was still a municipal employee, but did not file a lawsuit until the following year.
Percella’s attorney, Elizabeth Foster said she “intends to pursue a motion for reconsideration and will probably appeal,” despite a pending court motion to relieve her as counsel.
Foster declined to comment further.
The lawsuit, which never made it past discovery, dragged on for the last two years with no real development after surviving an early motion to dismiss.
The litigation saw some progress last month when a judge ruled that over seven years of Percella’s cell phone records would be admissible in the case.
Bayonne Law Director Jay Coffey and city spokesman Joe Ryan both declined to comment on the dismissal.
Percella had alleged that sometime during the 2014 election season, while Davis was still a captain with the city police department and was running against former Mayor Mark Smith, Davis began sending her lewd text messages – which continued after he was elected.
At the time, Percella had a separate sexual harassment lawsuit against Bayonne’s former Director of Municipal Services Joseph Waks and former Health Officer Richard Censullo. That lawsuit is still pending.
Her civil complaint implied that Davis would agree to settle that legal matter if Percella would “commit to involving herself romantically” with him.
She had said she was fired in December 2016, alleging her refusal to engage in a sexual relationship with Davis contributed to her termination.
The lawsuit was filed in the midst of Davis’ reelection bid, when he faced a challenge from former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell.
Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_