Wis. Insurer Confirms Payout of $67,500 in Confrontation Case

December 18, 2006

The insurance company for the North Lake Fire Department says it paid $67,500 to settle a federal lawsuit over a confrontation by two firefighters with a fisherman last year.

The amount was disclosed by Continental Western Insurance Co. after repeated requests by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for settlement terms, the newspaper reported Saturday.

“No portion of this amount was paid by North Lake Volunteer Fire Department or the Town of Merton from public funds,” the insurance company said in a statement.

It was only a portion of the settlement Mark Bratton and his relatives received.

Then-North Lake Fire Chief Terrence Stapleton had homeowner insurance through Acuity, and then-firefighter Mark Weber had personal insurance through American Family Insurance. Representatives of those insurance companies have not released their settlement terms, saying that the proceedings were confidential.

Bratton’s attorney, Chris Trebatoski, said other sums were paid, but he declined to reveal details because of the confidentiality agreement in the case.

The lawsuit stemmed from an encounter Weber and Stapleton, who are both white, had with Bratton, who is black, in April 2005.

Prosecutors said Stapleton used his German shepherd to chase Bratton, and Weber threatened Bratton with a handgun.

Bratton said he did nothing to provoke the incident and was merely fishing with his family.

Earlier this month, Stapleton, 67, entered an Alford-type no-contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct with a hate crime enhancer. In such a plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes there is sufficient evidence to convict. A misdemeanor count of obstructing that had been filed against Stapleton was dismissed. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Weber, 42, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of pointing a firearm at a person and to misdemeanor disorderly conduct with a hate crime enhancer. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 22.

Both men resigned from the fire department.

Topics Carriers Wisconsin

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