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June 19. 2012 10:54PM

Brookline chief, selectmen face civil suit from former police officer

BROOKLINE — On the heels of his failed wrongful termination suit against the town, former Police Sgt. Michael Kurland has filed a civil suit against the board of selectman and Police Chief William Quigley.

The suit, filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua on May 30, levels eight charges against the town and Quigley including: wrongful termination; violation of civil rights; intentional infliction of emotional distress; intentional interference with contractual relations; negligent hiring, supervision and retention; defamation; invasion of privacy; violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Kurland joined the Brookline Police Department in 1998 and served as the town's DARE officer. In the spring of 2010, the town and then Police Chief Thomas Goulden parted company – first through Goulden's termination, but following a court settlement, through Goulden's resignation. On April 29, Kurland was named interim police chief while the town conducted a search for a new chief.

In October, though Kurland had applied for the job, the board of selectmen announced that they had hired William Quigley as police chief, despite the fact, according to Kurland's lawsuit, that he had “accomplished more in his six months as interim chief than any other chief had previously done in the same time frame.”

In the suit, Kurland alleged that Quigley had made it known to various police officers outside the Brookline Police Department that “he felt animosity toward the plaintiff and did not intend to work with the plaintiff.”

This alleged animosity started with an arrest of one of Quigley's sons by Kurland and Mason Police Chief Barry Hutchins in 2004 after which the younger Quigley filed a complaint with the Brookline Board of Selectmen stating that Kurland had violated his civil rights.

A later incident involving Kurland and Quigley's other son intensified the animosity, Kurland said.

“As soon as Quigley was appointed chief in Brookline, he treated the plaintiff in a hostile and aggressive manner,” Kurland alleged.

Quigley launched an investigation into several departmental or town violations that he believed had been committed by Kurland and found, among other things, that Kurland had used the police department's uniform account to buy personal items, had told a prospective hire his start date before a background check had been completed, and coerced a local business owner into buying signs for a Neighborhood Watch program that he had implemented.

These three incidents, and Kurland's responses to them, were named as the basis for his termination in April 2011, following a three-part hearing and deliberation by the board of selectmen. Though Kurland sued the town for wrongful termination in court, in April 2012, a judge rejected Kurland's suit saying, in part, that Kurland's failure to be forthright had led to the incident involving the uniform account escalated the situation, and that though Kurland accused Quigley of bias, he never proved that bias existed.

In fact, many of the charges raised in the civil suit closely mirror the charges leveled in the wrongful termination suit—charges that were dismissed by the judge. This time, Kurland is demanding a jury trial and will be placing the evidence in the hands of his peers to determine whether his firing was just.

Kurland hasn't requested a specific monetary amount and is instead leaving any potential award, including attorney's fee should he prevail in the suit, in the hands of the court.

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Nancy Bean Foster may be reached at nfoster@newstote.com.


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