Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2014

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NLV agrees to settle lawsuits over 2006 detention, 2007 firing

North Las Vegas has agreed to settle two lawsuits against its police department for more than $250,000.

One suit, which was settled for $150,000, stemmed from the 2006 detention of Mohamed Majed Chehade Refai on an immigration hold at the North Las Vegas jail.

Chehade, a Syrian-born German citizen, was detained at the jail for four days after he was denied entry into the country at McCarran International Airport while attempting to visit his daughter in California, according to court documents.

Chehade was given the choice of returning back to Germany or to wait in detainment until his status was resolved. He opted to return to Germany but missed the flight while he was being questioned by authorities and subsequently was transferred for holding at the North Las Vegas Detention Center, according to court documents.

His suit alleged that two strip searches performed on him at the jail violated his constitutional rights and also made accusations of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery against the city and its police department.

In the second suit, Nicole Wilson will receive a $117,345 payment to settle a discrimination complaint she filed against the city after she lost her job with the police department in 2007.

Wilson was hired as a probationary officer and alleged she was placed on administrative leave and then not given a permanent position after she complained about not being paid for her overtime hours, according to court documents.

Wilson further alleged she repeatedly was harassed and intimidated to forgo the overtime wage claims and, after her termination, the department retaliated by “blackballing” her from receiving other jobs in law enforcement.

Both settlements were approved unanimously by the city council as part of its consent agenda during its Wednesday meeting. The settlements will be paid out of the city’s self-insurance fund.

Mayor Shari Buck said settling the lawsuits was a matter of financial prudence and helped avoid future legal costs or costly judgments against the city.

“It saved us money in the long run from long, extended court battles and higher attorney fees,” Buck said. “We felt it was best to settle for the lower amount.”

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