Couples suing beer-throwing NJ vice principal over possible COVID-19 exposure
NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP — Middle school vice principal Michael Smurro's beer toss at a restaurant has made him the subject of a lawsuit claiming his action put two couples in danger of being infected with COVID-19.
Smurro's wife Lisa got into an argument on April 24 with customers over what appears to be a transgender woman using the women's restroom at Fred & Ethel’s Lantern Light and Tavern in the Smithville section of Galloway Township.
As her husband, Michel Smurro, approached he asked her which person she wanted to fight as he threw the full cup at the group sitting behind a rope barrier.
The plaintiffs, Carolyn DiPietro, Christopher Benino, Robert Harris and wife Deborah Harris, state in the lawsuit filed May 27 that beer mixed with Michael Smurro’s saliva made contact with all four of their bodies, food, and personal property.
The lawsuit notes that the incident took place during the COVID-19 pandemic and the virus can be spread through bodily fluid including saliva.
The lawsuit does not say if any of the plaintiffs or Michael Smurro had received the COVID-19 vaccination at the time of the incident or had taken a test to determine if they had been infected.
In an email to The Associated Press days after the incident, Michael Smurro apologized for his actions, and said he should have just walked away from the situation.
The school district said it took "swift and serious" action against Michael Smurro but said they could not disclose specifics because of employee confidentiality rules. He is still listed as one of two vice principals on the school website.
The Philly Metro Activism Network has been holding weekly protests outside the school demanding Smurro be fired, lose his benefits including his pension and to no longer be able to work with children in his future employment. They also want the district to publicly name Smurro and denounce his statement.
Under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination, people are permitted to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their identified gender.