April 28. 2014 10:39PM

Insurance agent says Manchester dog park insurance lapsed last fall

New Hampshire Union Leader

MANCHESTER — The insurance agent that oversaw the account of the Manchester Dog Park Association (MDPA) has stated under oath that its coverage had lapsed for a month last fall.

Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur had deposed the agent as part of his lawsuit against former alderman Phil Greazzo, whom he alleges defamed him by repeatedly calling him a liar, among other things.

Greazzo was one of the founders of the dog park and remains on the association’s board. Having liability insurance is a key component of the agreement the MDPA signed with the city in 2010 that allowed it to use city land on the West Side as the site of an off-leash park.

Levasseur first publicly made the allegation that there was a lapse in coverage at an aldermen’s meeting in late October, a couple weeks before the election that saw Greazzo lose his Ward 10 seat in a hard-fought race.

Greazzo in turn accused Levasseur of abusing his office to get the account manager at Aspen Insurance, the MDPA’s agent, to divulge confidential information. He also refuted the suggestion that the insurance had lapsed, and produced documents that he said showed the MDPA had maintained coverage since its founding.

The Aspen agent provided her deposition last week. “The policy that had been in effect for the period of June 14, 2013 - June 14,2014 was cancelled on September 20, 2013,” the agent states, according to the document. “A new policy was issued on October 25, 2013 and that policy is now in force.”

The agent states that she told Levasseur about the lapse when he called on Oct. 29, 2013, and that he had told her that “he was asking for this information to help and protect Mr. Greazzo in this matter.”

Levasseur and Greazzo on Monday offered differing interpretations of the testimony of the agent.

“They were lying from the beginning,” Levasseur said. “They knew they were lying about it. It was just a malicious attack on me, and then trying to couple it up with the cop issue. I think his ulterior motive was to get me to quit and run in the special election.”

Greazzo said he was limited in what he could say because of the lawsuit that had been filed against him, but he noted that the deposition shows that Levasseur had in fact misrepresented his intentions to obtain the information. He further said he believed the agent was mistaken in concluding there was a lapse.

“I think she may have believed that to be the case, but I have paperwork to show otherwise,” he said.

Greazzo said he had to consult with his attorney before releasing any materials.Following the original allegations of a lapse in late October, Greazzo would make several motions to refer Levasseur to the Conduct Board, initially for his attempts to obtain insurance information about the dog park and later for other alleged abuses, including making unfounded allegations against the Manchester Police Department.

The aldermen declined to send Levasseur to the Conduct Board, but the Accounts Committee did focus its attention on whether there was a lapse in insurance.

Greazzo told the committee that the MDPA had an “unbroken chain” of insurance coverage. He further noted the MDPA had kept its insurance even though the Legislature had passed a law that “eliminated the liability of any city, town or municipality as pertaining to dog bites.”

The committee directed the city solicitor’s office to review the matter, but an attorney with the office said he couldn’t determine whether there had been a lapse because Aspen did not cooperate with the probe.

Levasseur sued Greazzo for defamation last month, accusing him of “ongoing and never-ending defamatory statements” against him, including calling him a “pathological liar” in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Levasseur has since revised his complaint to take into account the deposition from the insurance agent. “The evidence that the insurance has lapsed will prove the plaintiff did not lie and in fact it was the defendant who has lied publicly about the issue for his own personal gain and to the detriment of the plaintiff,” the revised suit states.