MARK FRANCO WINS ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN A DISCRIMINATION CASE FOR THE TOWN OF BAR HARBOR
June 28, 2016
Attorney Mark Franco, the newest member of the Firm's Trial Services Group, recently received a favorable Order on a Motion for Summary Judgment he filed on behalf of his client, the Town of Bar Harbor. In a decision dated June 27, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge George Z Singal issued a ruling granting the Town's Motion for Summary Judgment on plaintiff's claims arising under federal law i.e. his claim for disability discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA") and his claim alleging a violation of the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA").
The plaintiff, Nathan Young, was the chief of police of the Town for 23 years. His employment with the Town was terminated by the former town manager, Dana Reed after Mr. Reed retained an attorney to conduct an investigation into the incident that occurred in September 2013. That incident was an interaction between Young and two of his officers while Young was off duty . During an investigation of a parked pickup truck at a local store, the officers observed Young in the vehicle in what appeared to them to be an intoxicated state. Following that incident Chief Young was placed on administrative leave pending investigation and subsequently sought medical leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act. During the pendency of the investigation Mr. Young obtained inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse. As a result of the investigation and conclusions of the investigator Town manager Dana Reed terminated Young's employment in January 2014. Mr. Young appealed the termination decision and requested a public hearing which was held in February 2015. At the conclusion of the hearingthe town Council affirmed Reed's decision to terminate Young's employment.
Young brought suit against the Town by filing a complaint in Hancock County Superior Court. Attorney Franco removed the case to Federal Court and filed a motion to dismiss several of the plaintiff's claims. Young amended his complaint to include allegations of discrimination under the Maine Human Rights Act, the ADA and FMLA as well as several state law claims. Young claimed that the Town decision to terminate him violated the ADA because he had a disability - alcoholism, and that the Town violated the FMLA by retaliating against him for taking an FMLA Leave. Judge Singal granted the Town's Motion for Summary Judgment on these federal claims.
The plaintiff's remaining claims were his claim for review of the Town's decision to terminate his employment under Maine Rule 80B, his claim of breach of contract, and his claim of violation of Maine's Freedom of Access Act, 1 M. R.S.A. Section 404. Judge Singal decided to dismiss these claims without prejudice by reasoning: "While the motion for summary judgment presents arguments in favor of dismissal of each of these three state claims, the Court has determined as a matter of comity that those arguments are best examined by the state court now that plaintiff's discrimination and retaliation claims are resolved " .
Attorney Franco commented on Judge Zingal's Order in the Bangor Daily News as follows: "We were optimistic the judge would decide in our favor and confident from the start that we could win this case,"
Mr. Young has the right to appeal this decision to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals and to re-file his state law claims in Hancock Superior Court.
June 28, 2016, Bangor Daily News "Judge Dismisses Former Bar Harbor Police Chief's Discrimination Suit." To read the article, please click here.