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Council may not go after settlement

| Saturday, June 3, 2006, 12:00 p.m.

Forest Hills Council is considering backing off its decision to try to take a portion of the settlement money Officer Ed Limbacher received from the maker of a defective vest he wore when he was shot three years ago.

Councilman William Tomasic, a member of the public safety committee, has proposed rescinding a motion approved by the borough in April to intervene in the case. The motion to rescind will be on the agenda for the 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the borough building on Ardmore Boulevard.

Limbacher was shot in the stomach during a June 2003 drug bust. The bullet pierced his Second Chance Ultima vest and remains lodged in his abdomen. He sued the companies that manufacture the vest and its fibers, and settled his case for an undisclosed amount in January. Limbacher is permanently disabled and will not return to the job.

In its filing, the borough claimed it should receive the part of the settlement that covers Limbacher's lost wages. The borough solicitor has said the motion was filed because the disability payments to Limbacher and two other officers are draining the police pension fund.

The borough's decision to intervene in the case did not sit well with about 120 residents who packed a council meeting earlier this week.

"Most people felt it wasn't the right thing to subjugate (reduce the amount of) money from a police officer who was injured in the line of duty," said Tomasic, who was appointed to council last month. "I concur with that."

Tomasic believes a majority of council will support the motion.

Resident Donald Neeper is pleased council is considering the reversal.

"I didn't think the people of Forest Hills would put up with this," Neeper said. "I think they have made a mistake, and they should rectify it."

Tomasic said borough attorneys are meeting with an actuary to find a way to balance the pension fund. One option would be raising taxes, he said.

"We're looking at the whole thing," Tomasic said.

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