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Merrimack Valley

February 21, 2013

Sullivan wants McCann to pay legal fees for 'frivolous' suit

LAWRENCE – Saying the actions were “frivolous,” former Mayor Kevin Sullivan is trying to recoup money spent to defend himself against a third defamation and negligence lawsuit filed by Frank McCann, retired public works director, against him and his brother Michael Sullivan, who was also city mayor.

Kevin Sullivan hopes to recoup at least $18,187.50 in legal costs, if not more, from McCann and have McCann’s attorney Scott Gleason of Haverhill sanctioned by the court for repeatedly filing the “insubstantial” lawsuits which were “not advanced in good faith, unsupported by law or fact, and filed to harass” him, according to a motion filed Feb. 11 in Essex County Superior Court.

The city of Lawrence, which spent more than $220,000 defending itself against McCann’s repeated claims, may take similar action against McCann and Gleason, said Charles Boddy, city attorney.

“We are giving it thoughtful consideration,” Boddy said. An outside firm was retained to handle the cases and Boddy also worked on the defense, he said.

The legal action taken against Gleason follows a public reprimand he received from the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, a lawyer watchdog group, on Dec. 28.

In a case unrelated to McCann’s, Gleason was rapped for missing deadlines in a damage lawsuit filed by unidentified Methuen residents after their property was damaged by a landslide. By missing those deadlines, Gleason’s clients lost their right to sue for damages, according to the reprimand.

Gleason, an attorney since 1980, said that case was assigned to another lawyer in his firm and it “fell through the cracks.” He accepted responsibility for the mistake and said the matter was resolved, however, he would not specify how.

McCann, a 41-year city employee who retired on June 30, 2010, first sued the city and the Sullivans in federal court. But the civil suit seeking $1 million was dismissed and a second suit, filed in Essex County Superior Court, was similarly tossed. In October, a third suit was dismissed by Superior Court Judge Maynard Kirpalani, who cited legal flaws and statue of limitation issues.

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