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Couple Awarded
$2.84 Million After Town Neglects Harassment

Couple Awarded
$2.84 Million After Town Neglects Harassment

Firehouse

A New Jersey gay couple who claim a group of unruly volunteer firefighters threatened and harassed them have been awarded $2.84 million.

A New Jersey gay couple who claim a group of unruly volunteer firefighters threatened and harassed them have been awarded $2.84 million. Peter de Vries and Timothy Carter said the town of Secaucus failed to protect the couple's civil rights or investigate the firefighters' alleged harassment of the couple after Carter complained about noise at a wild party taking place at 1 a.m. in the firehouse's parking lot on April 25, 2004. The couple, who lived next door to the firehouse, said they were continuously harassed and called homophobic slurs by the firefighters, prompting them to eventually move, according to Newsday. After that day, Carter and de Vries said in court papers, they lived in constant fear.

The jury awarded them $433,000 for economic damages and a cumulative $2.4 million in emotional damages.

The couple's attorney, Neil Mullin, said that they would refer the case to the state attorney general's office to reopen a bias-crime investigation. Mullin also plans to send the case up to the U.S. Attorneys' office for a criminal obstruction case.

Daniel Bevere, who represented the city in the civil case, said in his opening statement that the town should not be held accountable for the firefighters' actions because it did not sanction the party. He also argued that the town could not be held liable for the conduct of off-duty volunteers, according to TheStar-Ledger newspaper. Bevere added that town officials suspended the investigation because the case was supposedly being looked into by Hudson County and the state of New Jersey. (The Advocate)

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