Pittsfield police officials prepared for trial in officer's suit


SPRINGFIELD >> Lawyers representing Pittsfield, its former mayor and members of its police force are prepared to go to trial against claims filed by a police officer last year.

Pittsfield Officer Christopher Kennedy has filed suit in U.S. District Court alleging he was passed over for promotions due to his age and as retaliation for alerting superiors to possible wrongdoing in the department.

In court documents filed last week, defense attorneys representing the City of Pittsfield, Police Chief Michael Wynn, Capt. David Granger and former Mayor Daniel Bianchi, deny all allegations of wrongdoing made by Kennedy and demand a jury trial.

Attorneys Nancy Frankel Pelletier and Jeffrey J. Trapani allege Kennedy did not exhaust all of his options to address his concerns within the department before filing suit and therefore the matter should not go forward in court.

"If they're ready to go to trial, so are we," said Needham attorney Timothy M. Burke, who is representing Kennedy.

Burke said a motion filed by the defense to dismiss the case was denied by the court last month.

The response filed last week goes through each of Kennedy's claims and denies them outright, states those claims can neither be admitted to or denied, or do not require a response because the referred to documents speak for themselves.

Kennedy claims he was passed over because of his age and for reporting his belief that the son of Pittsfield Police Capt. David Granger falsely claimed veterans status on a Civil Service exam.

In court documents, the city claims Kennedy was denied promotion due, in part, to a lack of supervisory experience and his receipt of four letters of reprimand, a suspension and a demotion over the course of his career.

Kennedy also alleges he was "wrongfully investigated" in order to discredit him and subjected to "a very intimidating and hostile work environment."

The suit seeks unspecified damages for loss of compensation and benefits, damage to his personal and professional reputation, emotional distress and legal fees and expenses.

No specific trial date was requested in the court filings.

Frankel Pelletier and Trapani were unavailable for comment Thursday.

A scheduling conference in Kennedy's case is set for April 13.

Meanwhile, a separate, but similar suit, is also pending in federal court.

Sgt. Mark Lenihan filed suit against the same defendants alleging he, too was denied promotions for raising concerns about hiring policies and other practices within the department.

Lenihan says he was passed over for promotion to lieutenant at least three times.

In an August 2014 letter to the Human Resources Division in Boston, Bianchi said Lenihan was passed over because the majority of his experience has been in the patrol division, he lacked specialized training and was suspended three times during his 28-year career.

Burke, who is also representing Lenihan, said depositions are currently being taken in that case.

A status conference is scheduled for May 10, in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

Lenihan is seeking unspecified damages.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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