OGDENSBURG — A federal lawsuit alleging Ogdensburg Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly violated the First Amendment rights of a group of residents after he blocked them on his personal Facebook page has been settled.
City Manager Stephen P. Jellie said Tuesday that an out-of-court settlement has been reached between the city and four city residents — Cynthia Layng, Douglas Loffler, Brian Mitchell and Angela McRoberts — who last August filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming that their First Amendment rights were violated after being blocked by Mr. Skelly on his personal Facebook page, which he used for city business.
“The mayor will agree to unblock all the parties and keep them unblocked for the duration of his term. The city has agreed to contribute $6,000 towards their legal expenses of which the city has currently run up a bill of $21,000 in legal expenses,” Mr. Jellie said. “It was my recommendation that although I don’t believe the mayor has violated the First Amendment, I also wasn’t willing to continue to watch money be spent while a small group of people sought attention for themselves.”
The settlement was welcome news to the four residents.
“We are very pleased with the results of this lawsuit,” they said in a joint statement. “We feel that justice has been served and our First Amendment rights have been preserved. Thank you to the citizens that donated and supported us during this important endeavor. This outcome demonstrates the impact of citizens defending their Constitutional rights.”