CHICOPEE – Former Mayor Michael Bissonnette’s attorney argued earlier this year that the city must indemnify him according to state law in the lawsuit filed against him and the city of Chicopee concerning the selection of Thomas Charette instead of William Jebb as police chief.
Bissonnette released several documents from his attorney Shawn Allyn to City Solicitor Marshall Moriarty. They contend Bissonnette should be indemnified in any action taken against the city, something the city has asserted it will not do.
Bissonnette told Reminder Publications he and his lawyer have not received any reply to their inquiries from the city.
The announcement of the lawsuit comes at a time during which Bissonnette has announced he is running for mayor against Mayor Richard Kos. Bissonnette has turned in his signed nomination petitions and begun campaign activities.
Kos sought successfully to challenge the legitimacy of Charette’s appointment as police chief and appoint Jebb after he returned to the mayor’s office in 2014.
The lawsuit was filed June 21 by Jebb, although clearly by the communications the letter references the knowledge of the intentions to sue have been known by the parties involved since the start of this year.
According to Jebb’s lawsuit, he and Bissonnette have been at odds for years due to a contested belief that Jebb had leaked personal information about Bissonnette during the mayor’s race in 2005. The situation escalated when Bissonnette bypassed Jebb as chief and appointed Charette as interim chief in 2012 and then permanently in 2013.
The lawsuit maintains that Jebb had scored highest in the Civil Service tests for the position and contains a quote from the chairman of the Civil Service Commission describing Bissonnette’s conduct in the selection process as “one of the most egregious and overt examples of political and personal bias I have seen during my tenure on the Commission.”
Jebb is seeking damages for defamation by Bissonnette, negligence from the city and a violation of 42 U.S.C section 1983. He has requested a jury trial.
Allyn had written to Moriarty twice – in February and March – discussing the state statue that would compel the city to defend both itself and Bissonnette.
“For multiple reasons, the city should have to comply with the statue,” Allyn wrote. He continued, “Since he [Jebb] lacks clean hands, I do not think a jury will see the matter in the narrow self-serving manner he defines it. A jury will not be impressed with the handling of the ‘Plasse’ matter [the case in which unauthorized photos of a murder victim were taken and then shown by several police officers], as well as other conduct he has engaged in over the past years. As you are aware, he opens his life up with some of the claim he attempts to make.”
Allyn has filed an order to move the case from Hampden County Superior Court to United States District Court, Western Division, but no reply has been received to this point.