Former Brookline officer continues fight to clear his name
BROOKLINE - Michael Kurland wants his good name restored in the community, and until all legal options are exhausted, the former Brookline police sergeant said he won't stop fighting.
In 2011, Kurland was fired by the town of Brookline over several policy violations, including using the police department's uniform account for personal purchases, telling a police officer he was hired before a background check had been completed and then not being forthcoming about it with Police Chief William Quigley, and coercing a local business owner to buy Neighborhood Watch signs.
Kurland was given a hearing before the board of selectmen, but the board ultimately voted in favor of termination. Kurland appealed that decision by seeking a writ of certiorari in the Hillsborough County Superior Court claiming that his right to a fair hearing had been violated and that he had been fired without cause. However the court found that the town had cause to fire Kurland and had allowed him due process.
Kurland then filed a wrongful termination suit against the town in superior court, leveling eight charges against both the town and Quigley that included 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.
Because the suit alleged a civil rights violation, the town's attorney, Donald Lee Smith, requested that the case be sent to federal court. Last week, the federal court in Concord dismissed Kurland's civil rights claim, then sent the case back down to the state superior court level, refusing to take jurisdiction over the seven other claims Kurland made.
Smith said he intends to file a motion to dismiss those claims on the superior court level because the court has already ruled that Kurland was fired with cause.
"The town is confident that the state court will dismiss this case because it's already been decided," said Smith.
Though some of the claims made by Kurland in the federal suit are different than those argued in the writ of certiorari, the court is likely to find that Kurland is simply seeking another bite at the apple.
"We're pretty confident the motion to dismiss we plan to file will be granted," Smith said.
But Kurland said if given the chance, he has the evidence he needs to prove that Quigley premeditated a plan to fire him even before Quigley was hired by Brookline, and that some of the members of the select board colluded with the chief.
"I'm probably going to embarrass that law firm," said Kurland, referring to Smith. "If this case goes to trial, we're going to set some new precedents."
Kurland said that he has never had an opportunity to present evidence in his favor, although at the original hearing, he was represented by attorneys and introduced evidence and testimony from witnesses. But Kurland said he didn't know before the hearing what kind of questions he would be asked, and couldn't prepare adequately for the accusations made against him. If the court allows him a trial by jury, as he's requested, he believes he can finally put the full story out on the table.
"I've been working on this case every day for two years," said Kurland, who now runs a private investigation firm in Hollis. "I was wronged without question and I will fight to the end."
Kurland said the firing has tarnished his name in the community and has ended a career in which he received constant commendations and accolades.
"It's not time for me to move on yet," he said. "I want to sleep at night knowing the people who did this to me are held responsible for their actions."
The first deadline for paperwork and scheduling for the new trial is April 30.