Trial averted in suit filed by Watsontown police chief

A federal judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit by a Watsontown police chief against the borough mayor and a former borough public works supervisor.

U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann dismissed the case of Chief Dennis Derr who claimed his constitutional rights of free speech and due process were violated and that a conspiracy existing between Mayor David Hontz and former employee Scott Winters.

A settlement was reached between the parties, according to court documents filed in U.S. Middle District Court.

Derr alleged he witnessed Winters displaying violent tendencies while at work and approached council as a private resident, not as a police officer. Winters was first placed on a paid leave of absence and subsequently fired Feb. 11, for failing to comply with the terms and conditions of his leave.

Hontz suspended Derr without pay in what Derr alleged was a retaliation, Zicolello said. Derr was given a letter Feb. 17 indicating the suspension. Council voted to put Derr back to his position as chief.