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Greenfield ponders appealing back-pay case to high court

GREENFIELD — The mayor will have to decide whether the town will recalculate how much it owes one of its former police officers in back pay or take the issue to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The town has already spent about $15,000 over the past four years in legal fees to fight an appeal filed by Denis Menard, who filed a grievance against the town saying he believed the town owed him more money upon retirement than he was given.

Mayor William Martin said the legal battle has been costly, but said the town pursued its options and spent the money so that a precedent wouldn’t be set that would cost the town more money down the road, as others retired and asked for the same as Menard.

Menard, who worked 27 years on the local police force, said he was forced to retire after he sustained an on-the-job injury in 2004.

In April 2011, Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford ruled that Greenfield had not breached its contract with Menard, as the former officer claimed, and that the town had not violated the covenant of good faith and fair dealing with respect to the contract.

Earlier this month, the Appeals Court ordered the town to recalculate how much it owes Menard. The court upheld Ford’s ruling, except for how much was calculated as Menard’s hourly rate for back pay.

Dennis Helmus, the town’s human resources director, said the town calculated what it owed Menard according to the contract.

Menard has been paid approximately $91,000 for unused sick time, personal time and time-bank he accrued, but said in his appeal that the time-bank amount should have included educational incentive pay and longevity pay, which would mean he would receive about $35,000 more from the town.

He is also looking for about $2,700 promised him by the town in “roll-call pay.”

Martin said he will decide by the beginning of next week whether the town will try to settle with a figure it feels is fair or will bring the case to the Supreme Judicial Court.

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