By Steve Plunkett
Ocean Ridge Police Officer Nubia Savino has ended her 5-year-old lawsuit against former Vice Mayor Richard Lucibella in a confidential, out-of-court settlement.
The resolution came just two days after a mediator declared both sides at an impasse. Dismissal of the lawsuit was posted to the court’s docket on June 20.
Richard Slinkman, Savino’s attorney, was limited in what he could say about the case.
“The matter has been resolved and she has dismissed her lawsuit,” he said.
Savino, who filed suit as Nubia Plesnik and later married, was part of the police team that charged Lucibella with resisting arrest in October 2016.
Her lawsuit, filed in June 2017, alleged Lucibella “committed a battery upon [her] by intentionally causing harmful or offensive contact with [her] by pushing [her] and further physically contacting her during the course of the arrest.”
A second count claimed Lucibella’s actions were negligent.
Lucibella, now 68, had $10 million in insurance for personal liability. Savino’s suit said she was seeking at least $15,000 in damages, the legal threshold.
Slinkman had said Savino suffered from shoulder pain after the arrest and only wanted what a jury felt was fair and just.
“I can tell you that I do not expect such to be in excess of Mr. Lucibella’s $10 million insurance policy,” Slinkman said when the suit was filed.
Much has happened in the courts since then.
Lucibella faced two felony charges — resisting arrest with violence and battery on Savino’s colleague, Officer Richard Ermeri — and a misdemeanor, use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.
He was found not guilty in February 2019 of the felonies but guilty of simple battery, a misdemeanor. The firearm charge was dropped at the start of the trial.
The next month Lucibella appealed the misdemeanor battery verdict, but the 4th District Court of Appeal in April 2020 upheld his conviction without comment.
In October 2020 he filed a police brutality lawsuit against Savino, Ermeri and the town of Ocean Ridge. The town was dropped as a defendant last November.
The case is now at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta after the officers’ lawyers appealed a judge’s pretrial ruling.
The genesis of all the legal activity was a 2016 scuffle at Lucibella’s oceanfront home. Savino, Ermeri and Sgt. William Hallahan went there after neighbors reported hearing shots fired. They confiscated a .40-caliber handgun and found five spent shell casings on the backyard patio.
The gun was later determined to belong to Police Lt. Steven Wohlfiel, a friend of Lucibella’s who was visiting.
During the arrest, Lucibella was pinned to the patio pavers and suffered injuries to his face and ribs. Savino said in her initial police report that she went to the department-approved urgent care center for “injuries to the left side of my body,” including shoulder, arm, wrist and foot. She also reported being placed on restricted duty.
Lucibella sold his home at 5 Beachway North in June 2021 for $8.6 million after buying a $1.7 million house in a county pocket next to Jupiter.