[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Lopatcong 6-5-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-13. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the intent and purpose of this chapter to provide for the defense of actions brought against, and the indemnification of, public employees as may be permitted by N.J.S.A. 59:10-1 et seq. and N.J.S.A. 59:10A-1 et seq.
As used herein, "official," "municipal official" or "employee" shall mean any person or former municipal employee, official, officer, elected official, or any member of the various boards, agencies, or commission of the Township of Lopatcong, County of Warren and State of New Jersey; provided, however, that the term shall specifically exclude any independent contractor, but is intended to include any professional staff of the Township who, for the purpose of this chapter, shall not be regarded as an independent contractor.
The Township is hereby authorized to provide for the defense of actions brought against its officials and to indemnify such officials to the extent hereinafter set forth, and shall save harmless and protect such persons from any financial loss resulting from litigation.
The obligation of the Township to defend and indemnify its employees for acts or omissions arising out of or in the course of the performance of the duties of that person shall be limited to those circumstances under which the Township itself would be liable for the acts of its employees under the doctrine of respondent superior.
The Township shall defray the costs of defending any criminal action against any official providing:
It is authorized by state statute, municipal ordinance or by resolution, and providing the criminal proceedings have been dismissed or result in a final disposition in favor of the official; and
The Township Council determines that there is no good cause to dismiss the official arising out of the incident or related incidents of the criminal proceedings.
The Township shall provide for the defense of any criminal action against any official, provided it is authorized by state statute, municipal ordinance or by resolution and such defense is not herein otherwise limited.
The Township Council shall not approve indemnification or the defense of any action if:
The act or omission complained of was not within the scope of employment or authority.
The act or omission complained of was because of actual fraud, willful misconduct or actual malice.
The defense of the action or proceeding would create a conflict of interest between the township and the official involved.
There exist policies of insurance, either obtained by the township or by another, by virtue of which the municipal official is entitled to a defense of the action in question from the insurer.
The municipal official has failed to deliver to the Township Clerk within 10 days of the time he or she is served with any summons, complaint, process, notice, demand or pleadings, the original or copy of such document, or thereafter fails to cooperate with the township in the defense of the matter.
The official fails to request the defense of any action.
If the action was brought by the township.
If the Township Council determines to provide a defense as authorized in this chapter, it may do so by:
A member of its Law Department or Township Attorney;
Hiring an attorney of its choice and paying the same directly; and
Reimbursing the municipal employee, appointee and official for reasonable attorney's fees expended or obligated to be expended by such official in the defense of the act. In no event shall reimbursement of attorney fees that the Township is obligated to pay exceed the per-dollar rate paid by the Township to its Municipal Attorney for each year involved in the defense, as authorized under this chapter.
Whenever the Township shall provide any defense provided for hereunder, the Township Council, through counsel appointed by the Township, shall assume exclusive control over the representation of the public official or employee, and such official or employee shall cooperate fully in the defense of any action. Where it is impracticable to do so, the attorney representing the insurance company on behalf of the Township, or such other person or persons appointed by the Township Council, shall assume exclusive control.
In any case where the Township shall be required to provide defense under the terms of this chapter, the Township shall pay or reimburse the public employee, appointee or public official for any of the following:
Any bona fide settlement agreement entered into by the employee, appointee or official, when the same has been approved by the Township Council of the Township of Lopatcong; and
Any judgment entered against the public employee, appointee or public official; and
If the Township Council has failed to provide such required defense, all costs of defending the action, including reasonable counsel fees and expenses, together with costs of any appeal. The township shall not be obligated to pay counsel fees in excess of the hourly rate paid to the Township Attorney for each year in which the litigation proceeds.
Where the Township would be required under the terms and conditions herein to provide any defense, except if such defense is provided for by insurance, the Township shall provide indemnification as aforesaid, but only to the extent not already covered by insurance.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall either permit or authorize the Township to pay any punitive or exemplary damages or damages resulting from the commission of any crime.