N.J. county pays $315K to settle injured CO's wrongful termination suit

The officer injured his knee during a “vertical jump test” while training with the agency

By Matt Gray
BRIDGETON, N.J. — Cumberland County has paid an ex-corrections officer $315,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging he was wrongfully fired after suffering an injury on the job.

Ioannis Frangomihalos was employed by the county department of corrections in July 2017 when he injured his knee during a “vertical jump test” while training with the agency, according to his lawsuit, which was filed in state Superior Court in 2020.

Frangomihalos sought treatment of his injury and was told he would need surgery to repair the damage.

He was on light duty and waiting for approval for the surgery from his employer when he was required to take a corrections department physical, the suit states. It had been two months since the surgery was recommended and he asked that the physical be rescheduled.

Frangomihalos was told that decision would be up to the warden and, hearing nothing, he attended the physical out of fear he would be fired if he did not.

He failed the physical in November 2017.

The following month, he filed a claim with the state Division of Workers’ Compensation and a motion seeking benefits so that he could get the knee surgery.

Less than a month later, in January 2018, Frangomihalos was summoned to a meeting and told he was being terminated, according to the suit, with the reason given that his knee injury did not occur on the job.

In November of that year, a workers’ comp judge ruled that the knee injury did occur on the job and the county was ordered to pay temporary benefits and provide the recommended treatment, according to court documents.

Frangomihalos’ suit accused the county of retaliation, wrongful termination and violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

The county board of commissioners agreed to settle the suit this week, with $189,978.83 of the payment to Frangomihalos coming from the county and the balance from the county’s insurance carrier.

The settlement was first reported by open public records advocate John Paff.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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