Civil jury: former state trooper struck man in the face with a bottle, awards victim $165K

A civil jury on Tuesday found that a former New Jersey state trooper punched a man in the face with a beer bottle while he was off duty in the parking lot of MetLife Stadium following a 2014 New York Giants game.

All seven jurors voted unanimously that Steve Hodge committed assault and battery on Nicholas Guidi and awarded him $100,000 in compensatory damages and $65,000 in punitive damages. 

Trooper Christopher Madia, who was one of the first to respond to the scene, and arrested Guidi, was cleared of any wrongdoing by the jury. (Guidi’s civil suit had accused him of covering up Hodge’s actions.)

“We are heartened by the fact that after nearly four years this jury saw through the lies and deceit and found Trooper Hodge guilty of assault,” Guidi’s lawyer, Josh McMahon said. “Hopefully the jury’s verdict leads to systemic change in how the State Police handles allegations of police brutality.” 

Except for Madia, Superior Court Judge Robert C. Wilson dismissed via motion all actions against the state troopers Corey Guarcello, Jeffrey Baer, Edward Rufolo, Peter Velez, Robert Trainor and Marc Pillus – who all testified during the civil trial. 

Steven Hodge‘s attorney, Tracey Bussel closed her arguments by arguing that the key witness who testified, Frank McClellan, had contradicting statements about where he was when the assault occurred.

Attorney Peter Ruse, who represented the current troopers, also noted that McClellan’s testimony was inconsistent, and argued that the troopers were being punished for doing their job, and “sometimes it’s the guy who starts the fight that ends up with the bloody nose.” 

About a year and a half after the incident, Hodge was indicted and suspended from the New Jersey State Police.

However the charges against Hodge were dropped when his brother, Frederick Hodge, submitted a letter to the prosecutors claiming responsibility for the assault.

Frederick Hodge, who also testified during the civil trial, was later indicted for aggravated assault, but those charges were downgraded to simple assault.

And Hodge was later reinstated to his job, but the state police said earlier this month that Hodge was no longer employed with the agency, which did not grant him re-enlistment.

The incident occurred in the stadium parking lot after a Giants game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyoFind NJ.com on Facebook.

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