The civil lawsuit against the College and the State of New Jersey filed by the family of John Fiocco Jr. has been settled after four years, according to a legal release dated March 30, 2012 and provided by the Office of the Attorney General.
“The ongoing litigation over this tragic matter was appropriately concluded by way of settlement reached between the parties,” said Leland Moore, a spokesperson for the state attorney general’s office, in an email. “The terms of that settlement included payment of $425,000 to the family of the deceased.”
Fiocco was a 19-year-old freshman at the College when he disappeared from his dorm in Wolfe Hall in March 2006. His body was discovered a month later in a landfill in Bucks County, Pa.
Susan and John Fiocco Sr. filed a $5 million wrongful death suit against the College and the state in 2008, claiming insufficient security measures allowed the incident to occur.
A trial, scheduled for Monday, May 7, 2012 after being postponed in February, is no longer occurring as a result of the settlement.
“We are pleased that The College of New Jersey has finally, after six years, recognized its responsibility for John’s death in failing to provide adequate security for the students in Wolfe Hall,” said Christine O’Hearn in an email. O’Hearn, of Brown & Connery, LLP, represents the Fiocco family.
“The decision to resolve this case now rather than proceed to a jury trial was based on many factors, most importantly not wanting to put the family of John Fiocco Jr. through a long and difficult trial,” O’Hearn explained.
O’Hearn also provided comment on behalf of the Fiocco family, stating: “While we are pleased to have reached a settlement to the civil case, it will not in any way lessen the loss of our son, John Fiocco Jr. We hope this case has raised awareness of the need for colleges to improve the security provided in student dormitories.”
“We believe the lack of prompt action to search for John when he was first reported missing complicated the ability of law enforcement to achieve a final resolution in the case of our son’s death,” the email statement continued. “Although six years have now passed, we continue to hope that law enforcement will at some point develop sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against the perpetrator of this crime.”
In October of 2011, the Fioccos alleged that an unnamed College alumnus privately admitted to murdering their son, but no criminal charges were made and the cause of Fiocco’s disappearance remains undetermined.
Matthew Golden, associate vice president for communications and College Relations, provided the following statement about the settlement via email.
He said, “Our college community was profoundly saddened by John Fiocco’s death, and the sorrow resulting from this tragedy has been compounded by the realization that we do not yet know and may never learn how John died. Although the State of New Jersey has determined that settlement of this matter was prudent to avoid the continued expense of litigation, there has been no finding of any wrongdoing or liability.”
“Nevertheless, our top priority continues to be the maintenance of a safe, secure, and welcoming campus, and our deepest sympathies remain with John’s family and loved ones,” Golden said.