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Police Bust Lawyers' House Party, City Pays $1.5M Settlement

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on November 23, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If there's any house the police want to be careful about busting into, it's the house of a power couple pair of attorneys.

The town of Westfield, New Jersey has just agreed to settle federal civil rights claims brought by Lawrence Rolnik and Kimberly Sorrentino -- both lawyers. The case was sparked when police arrived at their home in response to an alleged 'drunken brawl' in front of their home. Only $1.15 million dollars later, all is forgiven.

The Incident

Stories about exactly what happened on December 23, 2009 conflict in detail, but it appears settled that law enforcement arrived at the scene when neighbors called the police to report a "drunken brawl" at around 2:00 a.m. in front of the plaintiffs' home. Rolnik and Sorrentino's lawyer has claimed that police fed misinformation to the media in order to justify their actions.

Police Entered the Attorneys' Home Without a Warrant

Rolnik and Sorrentino claim that the police arrived at their home and entered onto the premises without a warrant and without the couples' consent. The police knocked Sorrentino down and caused injuries to her back and knees which required surgery. The couple claimed that the police also charged them with baseless claims and also failed to turn on their body cams as required by New Jersey Law. The pair accepted $1 million in settlement money; their son accepted $100,000 and a family friend accepted $55,000.

If there's ever a couple you want to do everything by the book by, it's a pair of lawyers who work for Lowenstein Sandler and Pentaurus Properties.

Apparently, the police in New Jersey need to be reminded that citizens have the right to refuse police entry unless the police have a warrant to search the premises based on probable cause. There are a number of other exceptions too, but excessive force in entering a premises is clearly an overreach on the part of law enforcement.

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