Sunday, September 24, 2023

Former Clerk Becomes 2nd Ex-Employee to File Tort Claim in Stone Harbor

Shown is a file photo of Stone Harbor Borough Hall.

By Vince Conti

STONE HARBOR – Former Borough Clerk Kimberly Stevenson filed an $800,000 tort claim against Stone Harbor, Aug. 29. The claim argues that Stevenson was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, causing her “severe anxiety, insomnia, and heart palpitation.”

It also claims that as a result of her departure from the borough, she suffered loss of income, loss of future income, and loss of pension income.

This is the second tort claim filed by an ex-employee this year. The first was filed, May 8, by former Borough Administrator Robert Smith, seeking $1.2 million in damages and attorney fees.

Smith, who was removed by a 5-to-1 vote of Stone Harbor Council at a public meeting, Feb. 9, claims that the council terminated his employment in violation of the state’s whistleblower statute.

He claims that the council acted at the urging of Councilwoman Jennifer Gensemer, who Smith says orchestrated his termination in retaliation for his efforts to get her husband, Harry “Jack” Gensemer, a member of the borough’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, to file his required annual financial statement.

Councilwoman Gensemer is also listed as one of the “public entity parties causing injury” in Stevenson’s filing, even though no specifics of any actions by Gensemer were noted.

Stevenson alleges that she was “effectively removed from her position as borough clerk” when Borough Administrator Manny Parada began excluding her from meetings that she was required to attend by law. The allegation continues that Parada delegated Stevenson’s constitutional duties to her deputy clerk in violation of state law, borough ordinances, and her contract with the borough.

Stevenson goes on to recount alleged conversations in which Parada disparaged the town in which she lived – Villas in Lower Township – and made inappropriate sexual comments to her.

Stevenson’s tort claim further states that Parada made unauthorized calls to medical professionals who were treating her, asking for information in violation of HIPPA and constituting an invasion of her privacy.

Stevenson further alleges that there was a planned 3% raise for all Borough Hall employees except her, which could have been in violation of state law since the clerk is a statutory position.

With regard to the allegations in the tort claim, the borough said it does not comment on personnel matters. Parada issued an individual comment to the claim, saying, “I deny all accusations against me.”

State law provides that the tort claims from both Smith and Stevenson had to be filed with the borough within 90 days. The claim is then normally referred to the borough’s insurance carrier. Stone Harbor is allowed a six-month period to review a tort claim before a lawsuit can be filed.

The actions with respect to these two former employees are part of a larger set of tensions that have been visible at public council meetings. Smith was terminated on a split vote of the council and with opposition to the move by the mayor. Stevenson cites a member of council among those she alleges caused injury.

The tensions on the council included a formal 5-to-1 vote of censure, Aug. 1, of Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour for remarks that she made, expressing concerns about the appointment of Parada as the borough’s permanent administrator July 3. Until July 3 when he was made permanent, Parada served as interim administrator following the termination of Smith.

Contact the author, Vince Conti, at


Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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