Ex-officer settles with Niles

NILES – A retired police officer who took on the City of Niles and McMenamy’s Banquet Center over loud music and the way the city enforced its noise ordinance has settled his federal lawsuit, according to his attorneys.

Attorneys David Neel and Robert Housel of Cleveland, who represent former patrolman Robert Ludt, and Niles Law Director Terry Dull both confirmed that a settlement has been reached.

Neel and Dull said finalized settlement agreement papers are still being signed. But Dull confirmed that Niles agreed to pay Ludt $85,000, which includes part of his attorneys’ fees. Settlement terms with the banquet center will be included later in the agreement.

Neel and Housel argued against any confidentiality agreement in the case that Ludt filed in federal court in Akron in August 2011.

The settlement also includes instructions that call for Mayor Ralph Infante to instruct the Niles Police Department to remove a reprimand that had been given to Ludt by former Chief Bruce Simeone. It also reportedly calls for a more strict enforcement of noise restrictions.

Ludt originally filed the lawsuit against Simeone in April 2011 within a week of getting the reprimand. He claimed a conspiracy between his boss and the owners of McMenamy’s to not enforce a local noise ordinance.

The case was dismissed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court in January 2012 after it was re-filed earlier in federal court, where it was assigned to Judge John Adams.

Ludt, who lives on Taft Avenue in Niles, has admitted he has been one of the ”most vocal” in complaining about what he called loud late-night noise at the U.S. Route 422 nightspot that has been measured at more than 100 decibels.

Simeone gave Ludt the reprimand for allegedly adding his own comments, or narrative, to another officer’s incident report concerning noise at the nightspot. The former chief described it as altering official records.

Neel said Simeone refused to apologize to Ludt in the settlement of the case.

Dull also said in anticipation of the settlement, City Council recently drafted new noise laws that call for a first time warning; followed by a second time citation in the form of a summons; and a third violation resulting in a shutdown order.