SPRINGFIELD — A federal judge last month dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by a North Adams woman who alleged excessive force in her 2016 shoplifting arrest in Pittsfield.
On July 12, U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson dismissed the case without prejudice, leaving the door open for it to be brought forward at a later date.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of Jennifer Estes, named former Pittsfield Police Officer Dale Eason, the city of Pittsfield, Police Chief Michael Wynn and several other department members as defendants. It alleged a conspiracy to hide the unlawful conduct of officers, and a lack of appropriate supervision and discipline, as well as a tolerance of officers' use of excessive force.
The suit, filed in February by Estes' attorney, Hector E. Pineiro, sought a jury trial and unspecified damages.
According to court records, Robertson dismissed the case because there was no proof to the court of service of the complaint and summonses.
Robertson dismissed the case without prejudice, for failure to timely file that proof of service.
Because it was dismissed without prejudice, the case could be reopened.
A message left at Pineiro's office and an email seeking clarification on the matter and whether there were plans to refile the case were not returned.
The arrest eventually led to Eason being fired from the department for what it said was inclusion of false information in his report, which stated that Estes was removed from the back of his cruiser for her safety.
That decision was challenged by the police union and the matter was taken to arbitration, which determined that Eason should be reinstated and serve a three-day suspension.
The matter was taken all the way to the state's Supreme Judicial Court, which upheld the arbitrator's decision.
Eason was reinstated to the department but immediately was placed on paid administrative leave until he reached an out-of-court settlement with the city in March.
He was awarded $85,000 in back pay and benefits, and an additional $40,000 for agreeing to not sue the city, which did not admit any liability in the matter. Eason was allowed to retire from the department.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.