EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 28, 2013

Zanni and Solomon meet but can't settle

METHUEN — The mayor and police chief met behind closed doors with a federal judge for nearly two hours on Tuesday but emerged without a legal settlement in the chief’s suit against the city.

“We did not come to an agreement,” said Mayor Stephen Zanni yesterday. “The tone of the conversation was good.”

“No agreement was reached but I think significant progress was made,” added lawyer Joseph Sulman, speaking on behalf of police Chief Joseph Solomon. “I’m still hopeful and I’d say the chief is still hopeful an agreement can be worked out.”

Solomon appeared Tuesday afternoon at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in Boston with Sulman and two other lawyers. Zanni, former Mayor William Manzi, City Solicitor Peter McQuillan and lawyer Geoffrey Wermuth also attended the private conference.

After discussing settlement negotiations at length with Judge Mark Wolf, the sides scheduled filing deadlines for motions of summary judgement — procedural devices used to dismiss all or parts of a case before it goes to trial.

The city will request the dismissal of Solomon’s suit before trial. Sulman said Solomon will look for Wolf to throw out the city’s “baseless” counterclaims against the chief and rule in his favor on other matters before the case goes to trial.

The city and chief will have until March 29 to file their motions of summary judgement. Opposition motions are due April 30 and the deadline for rebuttals is May 17. Wolf will hear arguments for summary judgement June 17.

If the case is not resolved through summary judgement, the city has also requested “a brief discovery period limited to damages,” according to a recent court filing. Solomon does not believe additional discovery for damages is necessary.

Zanni said he will update the City Council about the conference Monday night during a closed-door executive session.

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