Hooksett Town Council agrees to settle lawsuits
The settlement is the third the Town Council has authorized since December 2012 to end lawsuits brought forward by former police officers, the total of which now adds up to $412,500.
According to town officials, all three lawsuits stem from the tenure of former Police Chief Stephen Agrafiotis.
“I don’t expect any other (lawsuits) coming, but I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, I hope nothing similar to this occurs again,” Town Administrator Dean Shankle said. “Hopefully, this last lawsuit is the last remnants of previous commissions and commissioners and things like that. I hope fully that we can turn a new chapter.”
Shankle added that while he signed off on all three of the settlements, the situations that gave rise to the lawsuits themselves occurred before he was hired as town administrator.
Officer Jason Defina, who was fired in 2009 and then granted his job back in 2010, and Agrafiotis filed the other two lawsuits, both of which were settled for $125,000 a piece in December of 2012.
Martakos referred all comments to his lawyer, John Meyer, of the law firm Backus. Meyer and Branch, who said that the lawsuit stemmed from the belief that Martakos was forced to resign his position as a police officer in the department.
“He wasn’t fired, but under the circumstances he had no choice but to leave. It was primarily a complaint against retaliation by the department and (Agrafiotis) against my client,” Meyer said.
Meyer added that the retaliation stemmed from a “whistleblower-type situation.”
Town Council Chairman James Sullivan said that based upon the advice of Shankle and the town’s insurance carrier, the Local Government Center, the council decided to settle in a close 5-4 vote.
“I am not sure why the other four didn’t vote yes,” Sullivan said. “I guess they just felt it wasn’t the right approach to agree on the settlement for whatever reason. From my point of view, I voted yes because I felt it made sense. To continue on may have cost the town even more, you never know what will happen when you go to court.”
Sullivan added that with this lawsuit settled, he hopes it ends the troubles that the Police Department has had to endure in previous years.
“This is something we were advised of previously, as the council is responsible for agreeing to any settlements for lawsuits filed against any departments in the town,” Sullivan said.