Meriden may enter mediation to resolve suit filed by former city manager 

Meriden may enter mediation to resolve suit filed by former city manager 

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MERIDEN — The city may enter mediation to settle the federal employment discrimination lawsuit filed last year by former city manager Guy Scaife.

The parties have been working through discovery and are “discussing the possibility of mediation prior to taking depositions,” according to a joint motion filed by both sides on June 11. Judge Michael P. Shea granted a motion to push deadlines for discovery and other filings back three months “to allow discussion of mediation.” 

The City Council voted 8 to 4 in December 2017 to fire Scaife, citing “escalating discord” in City Hall, particularly between Scaife and city department heads. Scaife filed the lawsuit in May last year, accusing top staff and elected officials of engaging in a retaliation campaign against him that resulted in his termination. The city and officials named in the lawsuit have denied all allegations made in the lawsuit. 

City Corporation Counsel Michael Quinn said this week he couldn’t provide an update on discussions about entering mediation. Scaife’s attorney, Heena Kapadia, couldn’t be reached for comment. 

City attorneys met with the City Council in closed-door executive session this week to update councilors on the case. 

“It was solely for purposes of an update and no action needed to be taken so it wasn’t.  Beyond that I have no further comment,” Quinn said in an email.

The lawsuit doesn't specify the monetary amount being sought, other than "the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.” Scaife was terminated by the council without cause, entitling him to a payout of $84,150 and continued benefits, including a cellphone, for six months.

The 25-page lawsuit claims the city of Meriden, several of its employees, and elected officials, violated Scaife's right to free speech and liberty, causing him financial and emotional hardship.

The recently-granted joint motion extends the deadline for the discovery phase back three months from July 12 to October 10.

As part of discovery, Kapadia motioned to subpoena documents related to an outside law firm's investigation into Scaife's role in the selection of the city’s workers' compensation administrator in 2017. Brian Smith, an attorney representing the law firm, Berchem, Moses, PC, filed a motion to quash, which was granted after Scaife’s counsel did not file a response. Smith said in an email this week that the documents subpoenaed by Scaife were “the subject of publicly accessible court filings, as well as discussions between said counsel and myself.”

“Issues regarding the subpoena were resolved and we otherwise have no further comment,” Smith said.  

Quinn, whom Scaife asked the City Council not to reappoint as corporation counsel just days before he was fired, hired the law firm to conduct the investigation, which ultimately cleared Scaife of any wrongdoing.

The investigation is referenced in Scaife lawsuit, which claimed former Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski and Purchasing Agent Wilma Petro made complaints about Scaife’s handling of the selection process as part of a “retaliation campaign.” The lawsuit says Quinn responded to those complaints by ordering the investigation “rather than doing minimal due diligence on the issue, something which would have revealed the absurdity of the allegations against (Scaife).”
Twitter: @MatthewZabierek

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