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Discrimination Claims Against Waltham Police Lieutenant Rejected By The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

In this case, the complainant, a female dispatcher with the City of Waltham, filed a lengthy charge of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“the MCAD”) alleging that she was the victim of sexual harassment and a sexually hostile work environment, and also that she was subjected to gender discrimination, disability discrimination (arising out of severe chemical sensitivities) and illegal retaliation by a police lieutenant and others.

After the filing of the charge of discrimination, RJA Attorney Andrew Gambaccini filed with the MCAD on behalf of the named police lieutenant a seventy-eight page response that detailed the complainant’s employment history with the City and that also carefully explained why the complainant’s claims were bogus and fabricated. In particular, as to the disability discrimination claim, the response explained and supported with evidence the consistent and appropriate steps that were taken to accommodate the complainant’s needs and requests concerning her disability.

On April 27, 2019, the MCAD issued its determination on the complaint. The MCAD dismissed the complainant’s charge of discrimination on each and every claim, finding no probable cause existed to support any of the complainant’s various theories of liability.

Arbitrator Issues Award Concluding That A Danvers Police Sergeant’s Ten Day Suspension Was Unjustified

RJA recently obtained a major victory for one of its clients, a sergeant with the Danvers Police Department. In 2017, the Danvers Police Department received a call that a firearm had been discharged into a residence while no one was home, with the bullet striking the exterior of the building and penetrating into the home. The Town later accused a sergeant involved in the police response that day of having violated a number of different rules of the Department for the way that he handled the response. The Town suspended the sergeant for ten days.

RJA appealed the discipline to an arbitrator, who presided over a two day hearing. After lengthy closing briefs were submitted by counsel on both sides, the arbitrator issued a seventy-one page award concluding that the Town violated the union contract by suspending the sergeant.

In her award, the arbitrator agreed with RJA’s arguments almost entirely and rejected every rule violation brought forward but one. The one rule violation left standing at that point was a regulation that required members of the Department to notify the command staff of any serious or unusual incident occurring in Town, with a list of examples that included “shootings.” During the hearing, RJA was able to present evidence that, in the past, while the command staff would be notified of a “shooting” when it was a person that had been shot, the command staff was not notified when a gun was used to shoot at a building. A captain in the Department at the time of the prior event told the sergeant that the command staff did not have to receive notification in that type of shooting because the rule applied to the shooting of a person, not the shooting of a building. That was why, in this instance, the sergeant did not make a notification to the command staff. To the extent that the present administration of the Department interpreted the rule differently, the arbitrator concluded that the sergeant should have received no more than a verbal directive as to how this administration was going to apply the rule. The arbitrator found that no other action was warranted, the ten day suspension was improper and the sergeant should receive his lost pay and benefits suffered from the wrongful suspension.

RESULT: An award from the arbitrator concluding that the suspension was unjustified.
RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini

Superior Court Judge Dismisses All Claims Against Two Waltham Police Officers In Civil Rights Lawsuit

In 2018, the plaintiff amended his complaint in an existing civil rights lawsuit to name two Waltham police officers as defendants. In the amended complaint, the plaintiff alleged that he was defamed by the police officers’ filing of false police reports about him, that one of the officers sought a criminal complaint against the plaintiff without prior notice or respecting his right to a show cause hearing on the charges, that the officers conducted negligent investigations concerning the plaintiff, that the officers prosecuted the plaintiff maliciously and that one of the officers gave false testimony during a probation hearing.

A motion to dismiss was filed on behalf of the officers, explaining that the plaintiff’s claims were subject to dismissal prior to any discovery being taken. After a hearing on the motion in November, 2018, the Superior Court has dismissed all claims against both officers.

RESULT: Dismissal of all claims against the officers.
RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini

Civil Rights Claims Against Fall River Police Officer Dismissed In Federal Court

In a case handled by RJA Attorney Andrew Gambaccini, a federal judge last week dismissed federal civil rights claims against a police officer from the Fall River Police Department.  The primary plaintiff’s allegations generally were that he was present in an apartment when members of the Fall River Vice Unit executed a search warrant and, during the warrant execution, he was kicked in the head repeatedly.  That plaintiff brought a federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging that he was the victim of excessive force, that officers failed to intervene in the use of excessive force and that officers also failed to provide him with medical attention.  The plaintiff, who is black, further claimed that the officers were involved in a conspiracy to harm him based on his race.  The plaintiff’s two daughters also sued, claiming that their relationships with their father had been damaged because of his injuries.

A motion to dismiss resulted in the federal court’s rejection of the conspiracy and state civil rights claims, as well as all claims by the two daughters.  Discovery proceeded concerning the limited federal claims remaining and the plaintiff repeatedly was pressed to substantiate his allegations.  When the plaintiff failed to cooperate in discovery, a motion to dismiss based upon his discovery failures was filed.  The federal court permitted the plaintiff a last bite at the apple but, when he failed to cooperate again, all of the remaining claims of the plaintiff were dismissed with prejudice.  Although the Judge noted that dismissal of claims based upon a failure to cooperate in discovery is an extreme sanction that only should be used in situations where there is no other alternative, the Judge was persuaded that this situation fit that high standard.

RJA Vindicates Deputy Police Chief

By Amaris Castillo | Lowell Sun

DRACUT — There will be no disciplinary action for Deputy Police Chief David Chartrand and Sgt. Gregg Byam will be suspended for one day without pay over their administration of the Police Department’s evidence locker.

The decisions end more than a year of controversy over the management of the evidence locker, which was the subject of a scathing September 2016 consultant’s report that found the Police Department failed to follow numerous evidence policy requirements that led to the mishandling of property and evidence.

“That was recommended and, out of respect for the process, out of respect for the hearing officer, I will accept his recommendation,” Town Manager Jim Duggan said Thursday of the recommendations recently rendered by hearing officer James P. Hall.

Chartrand’s lawyer, Andrew J. Gambaccini, said in an email to The Sun: “After having to endure months of speculation, as well as troubling negative commentary from Town Manager Duggan, Deputy Chief David Chartrand is pleased to have been vindicated by the hearing officer’s finding that there does not exist evidence to impose any discipline whatsoever upon the Deputy for matters related to the evidence room controversy in Dracut. The hearing officer in this case was Attorney James P. Hall, who was chosen by the Town Manager to sit as the finder of the facts in this case. Although hand-picked by the Manager, we always had every confidence in Attorney Hall and his reputation for thoroughness and honesty.  [Read more…]

MA Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) Rejects Racism Claims Against Lawrence Police

The below article published in The Valley Patriot describes a recent RJA success in a MCAD lawsuit.  A Lawrence police officer brought a discrimination complaint against the City of Lawrence and eight police supervisors, alleging that he was the victim of years of mistreatment based upon his ethnicity.  Andrew Gambaccini of RJA represented the eight police supervisors and, in an eighty-five page response to the complaint of discrimination, explained why each and every one of the allegations made by the complainant were without any merit whatsoever.  In a decision issued in April, 2017, the MCAD agreed, dismissing the complaint in its entirety and bringing vindication for each of the police supervisors.

By: Tom Duggan | The Valley Patriot

 Defendants in Discrimination Case Say They May Be Filing a Defamation Suit Against Fellow Officer

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) has ruled in favor of Lawrence Police in a discrimination suit filed by embattled Lawrence Police Officer William Green.

Green accused the Lawrence Police Department, and in particular Superior Officers of racism and discrimination against him. Green is Black.

Green alleged that he was being treated differently than white officers when he was disciplined for, among other things; allowing a prisoner to escape, failing to turn in approximately $4,000 he had been paid in cash from doing private detail work at nightclubs, going outside the chain of command, and accessing the  database to obtain personnel information about another officer’s sick time.   [Read more…]

RJA obtains $72,500.00 settlement arising out of motor vehicle accident

RJA recently obtained a very significant settlement on behalf of a client who was injured in a motor vehicle accident. The accident was caused by another driver who entered an intersection after running a red light as our client, with a green light, entered the same intersection. The collision forced our client out of the intersection and into some vegetation off the road. While our client fortunately did not break any bones or need any surgery, he did suffer physical injuries. Those physical injuries resulted in less than $12,600.00 in costs for medical doctors and hospital bills.

Prior to the commencement of litigation, the insurance company provided a low ball settlement figure. As a result, a complaint was filed in Superior Court and, after that filing, the insurance company insignificantly increased its offer. Both low offers were rejected.

In discovery, RJA was able to use evidence gathered to place the other driver in an impossible position in which he had to concede that his denial of responsibility for the accident was false and made in bad faith. Building from that foundation, the insurance company was advised that the complaint was to be amended to add the insurance company as a defendant in a claim for its unfair and deceptive business and litigation practices.

Soon thereafter, the insurance company not only more than quadrupled its settlement offer, but also expressed the wish to engage in, and pay for, mediation to try to settle the case. That mediation resulted in a settlement for our client of $72,500.00, a figure about six times the cost of his medical doctors and hospital bills.

RESULT: Settlement in the amount of $72,500.00 for RJA’s client.
RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini and John K. Vigliotti

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Arbitrator Reverses Five Day Suspension of Springfield Police Officer

In a recent arbitration award, Reardon, Joyce & Akerson, P.C. (“RJA”) successfully represented a Springfield police officer in connection with a five day suspension.

Prior to the five day suspension, the officer, who was not at that point a member of the Massachusetts Police Association Legal Defense Fund, had been suspended from his duties based upon various allegations, including that the officer had not been in proper uniform at the start of his shift.  Without the benefit of the Legal Defense Fund at that time, the officer served the suspension.

Following that discipline, the officer joined the Legal Defense Fund.

Later, in 2015, the officer was working a private road detail in the City.  At the time, the officer was carrying a radio and a firearm, but was not wearing a hat, badge, uniform shirt and was not carrying a baton, handcuffs or pepper spray.  A supervisor who encountered the officer on that detail ordered the officer back to his locker at the station to retrieve those various items before returning to the detail.

The officer did as instructed.  Thereafter, the officer was asked for a report concerning the matter and, after submitting his report, was issued a five day suspension by the appointing authority, the Police Commissioner. Hand-held cb radios were used to handle the situation with greater efficiency.

The officer, now a member of the Legal Defense Fund, challenged the suspension before an arbitrator. [Read more…]

Open and Gross Lewdness and Lascivious Behavior Under G.L. c. 272, §16 Requires “Shock” or “Alarm” to Another Person

In the case of Commonweatlh v. Maguire, 476 Mass. 156 (2017), the Supreme Judicial Court addressed the elements of the felony crime of Open and Gross Lewdness and Lascivious Behavior under G.L. c. 272, §16.  Based upon a failure to prove that the defendant’s conduct of exposing his penis to several females sitting on a bench at the Hynes Convention Center subway platform produced either “shock” or “alarm” for the females or the MBTA officer who made the arrest, the Court reversed the conviction.  The officer testified that he was disgusted at the defendant’s actions and concerned that the women were being victimized by those actions, but the Court ruled that evidence was insufficient to meet the subjective shock or alarm requirement for conviction of the felony.  It reversed the conviction and remanded for entry of conviction for the lesser included crime of Indecent Exposure. [Read more…]

Police Need ‘Particularized Evidence’ to Seize Electronic Devices Without a Search Warrant and Must Diligently Apply for a Warrant After the Seizure

In Commonwealth v. White, 475 Mass. 583, 59 N.E.3d 369 (2016), a Boston police detective investigated an armed robbery and shooting at a convenience store.  His investigation led him to the defendant as one of the suspects.  Visiting the defendant’s high school, the detective learned from one of the administrators that, under the school’s policy, she was holding the defendant’s cell phone.  At the time, the detective had no information that the phone was used in the planning, commission or cover up of the crime, but he was aware that crimes committed by multiple suspects frequently involved the use of cell phones by the suspects.  He thought there might be useful information on the phone; he obtained it from the administrator so that the suspect could not remove or destroy any evidence on it.  He logged it into the department’s evidence room.  Sixty-eight days later, the investigation developed enough information that the police were able to obtain a search warrant to search the phone.  Once charged, the defendant moved to suppress the evidence found on the cell phone.  A Superior Court judge allowed the motion, just like any court would, with the assistance from the delegation which included Criminal Lawyers Perth, and the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision after the Commonwealth appealed. [Read more…]