Ex-Camden dispatcher's legal odyssey approaches a decade
Boston — A former Camden police dispatcher's effort to be compensated for being laid off and not being offered subsequent job openings in the department will soon mark its 10th anniversary.
The attorney for Alan Clukey of Belmont filed an appeal Jan. 30 in the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston of a July 2016 jury judgment in favor of Camden in July 2016.
After that jury verdict was issued in July, Clukey's attorney, David Glasser, of Camden, said he would be filing the appeal based on the contention that the federal trial judge's instructions to the jurors were in error.
This would be the third appeal to the appellate division -- the first two ended with rulings in Clukey's favor. The repeated appeals have made this case one of the oldest active cases in the northern New England region.
Clukey had been a dispatcher for the town from 1976 until he was laid off in June 2007, when the town shifted its dispatch services to Knox County. He argued that, as senior dispatcher, he should have been offered openings in the Camden Police Department when they occurred. In the 12 months after he was laid off, however, he was not hired to fill openings for a parking enforcement officer or an administrative position.
The case ended up revolving around a clause in the police contract that required workers who were laid off to provide the town manager with their mailing addresses and telephone numbers if they wanted to be included on a recall list.
Clukey had contended that the town already had that information in his personnel file, but it passed over him for job openings.
Clukey filed the federal lawsuit in October 2011.
The July 2016 jury ruling -- held after a three-day trial in U.S. District Court in Portland -- was that the preponderance of the evidence presented at trial found that Clukey was required to provide the address and phone number, even though the town already had the information.
The witness list included former Town Manager Roberta Smith, who is now the interim manager, Patricia Finnigan, who was town manager at the time, and Select Board Chair John French Jr., as well as Clukey.
Glasser said in July he was disappointed for the Clukeys that this case had gone on so long and that they will have to endure more litigation. He said the average time for a case to be heard in federal court is six months.
The court has made reference to the length of the case.
“These outstanding issues reflect the piecemeal approach to this litigation pursued by the parties,” the appeals court stated. “There is the potential for more appeals in a case where we have already had two. This is a regrettable situation that drains the resources of everyone involved. We urge the parties to seriously consider settlement on remand.”
No settlement was reached, however.