A lawsuit by a retired borough police officer claiming he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to a patrol assignment he was given as "punishment detail" by the chief in July 2010 is in the discovery process.
Retired police Officer Anthony Kaspereen, who was a Madison police officer for 12 years, alleges in the lawsuit he was assigned to patrol Madison by foot in 90-degree heat as punishment for using his sick days for sinus problems.
The lawsuit says the sinus condition was a disability and Kaspereen was being discriminated against for his disability.
The Borough of Madison and Police Chief John Trevena are named as defendants in the suit. The borough, in its response, said the detail was a regularly-scheduled assignment and denied it was given as punishment.
The complaint says other officers told Kaspereen the chief instructed them not to talk to Kaspereen or bring him water while he was on the detail. It also says the PBA filed a grievance on Kaspereen's behalf related to the assignment.
Kaspereen is seeking compensation for loss of reputation, injury, exacerbation of pre-existing physical conditions, punitive damages, lost pay and legal fees. Kaspereen's wife, Jennifer, also is suing the borough for loss of companionship.
According to the lawsuit, on July 12, 2010, Kaspereen passed out in his home and was rushed to the emergency room and the hospital determined Kaspereen suffered from dehydration caused, in part, by the patrol assignments.
Then, from September through December 2010, Kaspereen underwent testing for medical problems he was experiencing, including weight loss. On Dec. 24, he drove to the emergency room with severe chest pains and anxiety, and was diagnosed with anxiety and given medication, the lawsuit says. He has been diagnosed with PTSD.
The first foot patrol assignment was given July 3, 2010, over the Fourth of July holiday.
"On or around 7:00 p.m., as ordered, Plaintiff Kaspereen began walking in the extreme heat wearing full uniform and bulletproof vest," the complaint says.
The department continued assigning him to the detail through the middle of August.
"The daily and cumulative effect of the baseless punishment, isolation and ostracization had a foreseeable, significant and deleterious effect of Plaintiff Kaspereen's physical and mental well-being," the complaint says.
The lawsuit was filed June 22, 2011. Kaspereen's disability retirement was approved by the pension board effective March 2011.
Kaspereen argued the lawsuit should be heard in Union County, where he lives and filed the case, because he takes anti-anxiety medication that can affect driving ability, but the court sided with Madison in saying it should be heard in Morris County.
The case is assigned to Judge Stephan C. Hansbury.
Messages left with the police department, borough administration, Kaspereen's attorney and the borough's attorney seeking comment were not returned Thursday. Kaspereen is being represented by attorney Kevin Barber. The borough and Trevena are being represented by attorney Thomas Hanrahan.