Printer Friendly

More court action threatened; Sutton ex-fire chief's injury.

Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.

SUTTON - A lawyer representing former Fire Chief David R. Currier said he will drag the town back into court if it does not restore or pay out his client's sick pay, step increases and vacation time he said the chief accrued while out on injury leave.

Mr. Currier's lawyer, Nicholas Poser, said that Mr. Currier officially retired at the end of the year; he had been on an injury leave under a state law that forces towns to pay firefighters who get hurt on the job.

Just getting the designation - commonly referred to as 111F benefits - required a Worcester Superior Court judge's order early last year.

That order - given by Judge John S. McCann Jan. 17 - determined that Chief Currier was eligible for the 111F benefits, a designation the town fought for months after the chief left work. With the judge's order, the town was required to put the chief back on the payroll, and to pay him retroactively.

Mr. Poser said Friday that the town had put the chief back on the payroll soon after the decision, and restored back pay, but he said that the sick time, vacation time and compensatory time the chief was forced to use while he awaited the judge's decision was never restored. He also said the town failed to give Chief Currier step-pay increases.

Mr. Poser said that he negotiated a $30,000 settlement in the fall with Town Administrator Joshua A. Handverger that would resolve any legal action by Chief Currier against the town. But in a December letter from Mr. Poser to Mr. Handverger, the lawyer accused the town of reneging on the deal.

Now, Mr. Poser is seeking payment of around $22,000, plus a reimbursement of what he said was an underpayment of Chief Currier's salary since July 2005, plus interest. If the town accepted the offer, Mr. Poser said Chief Currier would withdraw any legal action against the town. He said that since he sent a letter to the town in December, he has not heard back from the town or its lawyers.

Mr. Poser said that the 111F designation - which allows firefighters to continue to get paid if they are out of work because of an injury they received in the line of duty - should restore Chief Currier's sick time, vacation time, and compensatory time. If the town restored that time, Chief Currier, now that he has retired, could participate in the town's sick leave buyback program. A town meeting in the fall voted to effectively put a halt to the program, although Chief Currier would still be able to cash in on time already accrued.

Mr. Currier sought the 111F designation in 2005 based on his doctor's diagnosis that he had a permanent partial disability with regard to his left knee. His doctor said the injury was directly related to a knee injury he suffered during a rescue at Purgatory Chasm in 2002, Judge McCann wrote in his decision.

The judge wrote that the town alleged that Chief Currier's injuries were unrelated to his 2002 injury, and were instead probably related to pre-existing and unrelated arthritis. Judge McCann wrote in his decision that during the first week of March 2005, the chief began to experience swelling, instability, and pain in his knee. The judge also wrote that the town also claimed that Chief Currier's March 2005 injury occurred not while he was working, but when he was home recovering from heart surgery.

The situation outlasted two town administrators - former Town Administrator Patricia E. Nedoroscik and interim Allan Klepper, who was replaced by Mr. Handverger in the spring.

The judge's order for the 111F designation came during Mr. Klepper's tenure; Mr. Klepper said at the time the town intended to fully comply with it.

Mr. Handverger said last week he could not discuss specifics of the situation, since litigation is pending. He said he hasn't received official notice regarding Chief Currier's retirement, although he said he plans on hiring an outside consultant to help select a new fire chief. Firefighter Paul Maynard has been serving as acting chief since Chief Currier has been out of work.

He said Chief Currier was a well-respected chief, and worked hard for the town. He said the situation has been an ongoing issue between the town and Chief Currier's lawyer.

"As far as I'm aware, Mr. Currier and his lawyer have always contended the town owes him more money," Mr. Handverger said.

Chief Currier, of Worcester, was hired as the town's chief in 1999. He could not be reached for comment.

NAME: SUTTON SELECTMEN; SUTTON FIRE DEPARTMENT
COPYRIGHT 2007 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 8, 2007
Words:771
Previous Article:Quaboag Regional getting public input on '08 budget.
Next Article:New chief set to be named; Shrewsbury to pick Sampson successor.


Related Articles
BRIEFLY.
3 men are indicted in February shooting; Bullet entered victim's eye, brain.
REGIONAL DIGEST.
REGIONAL DIGEST.
Woman accused of drunken driving; Van, bicyclist are hit in Northbridge.
REGIONAL DIGEST.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters