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Former Goshen constable sues town

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GOSHEN — The town of Goshen is headed to court on May 30 to defend itself against a lawsuit brought by a former town constable.

Tom Kerr is suing the town in Addison County District Court on four counts, stating that the town unlawfully terminated his constable position, trash and recycling removal and landscaping contracts, and invoking Vermont’s “whistleblower law,” which prevents employers from retaliating against a worker who files a complaint or reports a problem with the employer.

Kerr’s complaint alleges that the town terminated his contracts as a result of his reports that town employees were holding parties in the town garage. He requests that the town pay damages and court fees.

When Kerr first brought his case against the town in 2010, the selectboard replied that it had reviewed Kerr’s reports and determined that no action should be taken regarding the town shed.

Kerr still holds the position of Deputy Health Officer in town, but was removed from his elected constable position in October 2010, when, the town stated in court paperwork, Kerr failed to carry an insurance bond for his position. The town also hired another person to do its landscaping and has since switched from contracting out trash and recycling pickup to having town employees complete the job.

According to court records, Kerr filed for an injunction in December of that year in an attempt to keep the position, stating that the loss of income had caused him to lose his house and two trucks and to file for bankruptcy. The court denied the request.

Following a discovery period and mediation that stretched through 2011, the case is scheduled to go to a two-day trial with jury this week.

The case has also sparked a discussion by the selectboard on insurance coverage. As the selectboard looks to renew the town insurance policy, several members have inquired as to what kind of coverage exists for public officials and the town when sued by an individual.

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