Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Spatola 1, Town 0

Many remember the frivolous Ethics Complaint that Council wannabe John Kane filed against then Board of Finance Member John Spatola. It was eventually dismissed but not before protracted proceedings.

Some also remember that Mayor wannabe Bob Kostes sat at Kane's side, helping him with his case.

Spatola asked the Town to reimburse him for his legal fees under the provisions of a State Statute that require reimbursement if a "claim, demand or suit" against a Town official is dismissed but the Town and its insurer refused to do so. Spatola then sued the Town and the insurer, on the Town's behalf, tried to get the case thrown out.

It argued that the words "claim, demand or suit...do not include an ethics complaint which does not expose the plaintiff to liability for money damages."

In the first case to address the issue, on September 26, 2007, Superior Court Judge John W. Pickard held that "the plain meaning of the words 'claim' or 'demand' could encompass an ethics complaint." Citing dictionary definitions, Judge Pickard wrote, "A complaint to a local ethics commission falls within both definitions. There is nothing in either definition which would imply that the complaint must seek monetary relief."

So the $150,000 question is, will this substantial determination in Spatola's favor result in a settlement of the case?

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