Roxann Wedegartner: Critical column flat wrong on the facts

Greenfield City Hall


Published: 03-01-2024 4:01 PM

The attorney, David Roulston, appears to have a problem with liability insurers. But we don’t know that until the last three paragraphs of his Feb. 29 My Turn, “Bias verdict should not have been surprise.” As for the eleven paragraphs that precede those last three paragraphs, Roulston pontificates as if he knew what he was talking about. He does not.

He assumes I was not fully informed of this case, which began six years before my becoming mayor. It started with Mayor William Martin and ended up with me when I took office in January 2020. I was informed within my first week of all the legal cases pending from previous years’ litigation. The Buchanan discrimination case was one of several left at my desk. As the months wore on, the cases were adjudicated or mediated with my knowledge until Buchanan and Dodge v. City of Greenfield and Robert Haigh was the last case standing. Lieutenant Dodge did not enter the case until 2017 for reasons he only knows. But, like the bank robber said, “That’s where the money is.”

The case is and was a civil case alleging employment and racial discrimination. Those cases are handled by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). Mayor Martin referred it to the municipality’s liability insurer, the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA), which is exactly where it should have gone so they could assume the financial liability on the part of the city that pays a membership fee to them. They choose a lawyer to represent the city. It was MIIA and their attorney, Leonard H. Kesten, who ably determined the “bona fides of Buchanan and Dodge’s complaint” which is why we’re where we are today. A real lawyer should know that.

The “voluminous pretrial activity,” conducted by Kesten’s firm was the subject of many informative update meetings with me and then chief of staff, Danielle Letourneau. Of course, there were settlement offers put forward by the insurance company. But, as real lawyers know, it takes two to tango to settle.

Roxann Wedegartner, former mayor