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March 26, 2013

Methuen to pay Solomon $100K plus legal fees

METHUEN — The city will pay police Chief Joseph Solomon $100,001 under an agreement that spells the end of a nearly two-year battle in federal court.

The city also intends to cover Solomon’s legal expenses from his federal lawsuit against the city and former Mayor William Manzi. The chief filed the suit in May 2011, accusing Manzi and the city of “unconstitutional and retaliatory actions” for “illegally” firing him in 2008.

The agreement still requires approval from the City Council, which will meet Thursday night to discuss the matter. Solomon and the city have also yet to agree on the total cost of legal fees the chief is due.

But both sides were claiming victory yesterday after the deal was finalized.

“I think it’s a win,” said Mayor Stephen Zanni, who began settlement negotiations with Solomon in April 2012. “This thing could have gone up to $1 million if it had gone to court. To resolve it was in the best interest of the city.”

“This result leaves the chief feeling vindicated,” said Joseph Sulman, Solomon’s lawyer. “This is an excellent outcome. This takes out the uncertainty and gives some finality and a definite outcome for the chief.”

The agreement resolves all of Solomon’s claims in the suit, “including without limitation any and all claims for compensatory and/or punitive damages, emotional distress, statutory damages, attorneys fees, litigation expenses and costs of this action.”

The first step toward an agreement came March 7 when the city submitted an “offer of judgment” to Solomon. As part of the offer, the city and Manzi “allow judgment to be taken against them” in the amount of $100,001 plus legal costs.

Solomon agreed to the proposal yesterday afternoon. Under the offer of judgment, Sulman said the outcome of the case is no different than if a judge or jury ruled in Solomon’s favor.

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