MIDDLEFIELD — A superior court judge has dismissed a wrongful termination lawsuit by a former municipal building official who was seeking to have his job reinstated and to receive back pay.
Robert Meyers, of Moodus, was Middlefield’s building inspector for almost six years until he was terminated in February of 2017 by a vote of the Board of Selectmen.
“There is substantial evidence in the record to support the board’s decision to terminate Meyers from his position as the building inspector and the board did not act illegally or abuse its discretion in reaching its decision,” Judge Martin E. Frechette said in a Jan. 17 ruling.
Meyers filed a complaint against the town in March 2017 claiming the town did not provide him with written notice of the specific grounds of dismissal and failed to prove that he failed to perform his official duties. He also claimed that he presented sufficient evidence that he performed his required duties.
In Meyers’ letter of dismissal, the town alleged he failed to perform his duties in connection with building renovations at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort. Specifically, the town said that Myers’ didn’t maintain proper documentation, follow instructions, or keep assigned work hours, and that he displayed inappropriate conduct and insubordination on several occasions.
Town officials also said that he used his position to obstruct Powder Ridge Lodge’s efforts to obtain building permits, according to court documents.
Meyers said he was concerned the lodge did not meet fire and other building codes, forcing him to assert his authority over the project on more than one occasion, court documents state.
Meyers was hired in April 2011. In the first year of his tenure, the formerly town-owned Powder Ridge was bought by Brownstone Entertainment.
Court documents outline Meyers’ conflict with Powder Ridge owner Sean Hayes, which reached a head when Hayes threatened legal action after Myers denied multiple attempts for a certificate of occupancy.
“The harassment of Powder Ridge has to stop,” Hayes wrote in an email to First Selectman Edward Bailey, assistant building official Vincent Garofalo, state Assistant Building Inspector Dan Tierney, and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. “Everyone knows what he is doing is wrong but no one is willing to stop it.”
Meyers received a written notice of a pre-disciplinary hearing held in December 2017 and a letter outlinging the reasons for his termination the following month.
A public hearing was held Jan. 24, 2017, during which the public was generally supportive of Meyers, but not when it came to Powder Ridge.
Robert Parziale, service representative with AFSCME Council 4, said Meyers had no prior discipline before the hearing, according to Record-Journal reporting at the time.
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