SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Former Emergency Service Director David Nichols has filed a civil lawsuit against the borough of Spotswood, Spotswood Mayor Edward Seely and newly reinstated Spotswood Business Administrator Dawn McDonald. The civil lawsuit was filed in Middlesex County's Superior Court on Monday, December 23. The suit also names John and Jane Does one through 10, who are individuals who may be named later in the proceedings.
Nichols, a Toms River resident, served as the borough's EMS director from March of 2017 to April of 2019. He resigned at the April 15 borough council meeting and filed a Tort Claims Notice, which notifies parties of the possibility of a lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges individual acts of harassment and retaliation against Nichols at the hands of the defendants in the case as well as creating a hostile work environment that forced him from his job. Nichols was on medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for five weeks prior to his resignation on April 15. He began his EMS career as a volunteer in Port Reading and first joined Spotswood's squad in June of 2016. He became acting director eight months later and was offered the director's position in June of 2017.
According to the allegations in the lawsuit, Nichols' issues with McDonald began shortly after being appointed acting director following the departure of former borough EMS Director Robert Kearstan. Nichols is the sixth EMS director to serve the borough in the past four years according to the allegations in the complaint which labeled the department as "dysfunctional."
The suit alleges that the "hostile work environment created by McDonald and allowed to continue by Seely" began to impact Nichols' health. According to the complaint during the summer of 2018, numerous co-workers noticed that Nichols looked "visibly ill." Nichols was directed by his doctor to take a three-week medical leave according to the document on March 1. He was expected to return to work on March 29, but his leave was extended by his doctor. The complaint alleges additional acts of retaliation by McDonald that included reading personal emails and sharing confidential details with borough employees, causing the extension of the medical leave.
The suit is seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages.