Anthony Capanelli and his wife, Fulya Metin, have filed suit against Methuen, saying officials were negligent in dealing with her claims of sexual harassment against former City Solicitor Maurice Lariviere.
Among their claims is a loss of "consortium" - a spouse's right to companionship and sexual relations. Lariviere also is named as a defendant.
"Her damages, her injuries are ongoing," said the couple's lawyer Marsha Kazarosian. "Sexual harassment is something you don't escape from unscathed."
Capanelli, a convicted felon, was dating Metin while she was working in Methuen three years ago. Kazarosian said the two have since married and Metin now goes by the name Fulya Capanelli. Anthony Capanelli served time in a federal prison on charges of conspiracy to commit robbery.
Lariviere, who has his own lawsuit against the city, resigned in February 2005 after police confronted him with a surveillance tape of Lariviere making sexual advances toward Fulya Capanelli, who worked as his secretary.
Lariviere said the relationship was consensual and said he was threatened with arrest if he did not sign a prepared resignation letter. That is why he, too, has filed a separate lawsuit against the city.
The Capanellis' complaint said she did not know how to handle Lariviere's actions and was afraid of losing her job. She confronted police on Feb. 15, and police installed a hidden camera in the solicitor's office. They said Lariviere is shown kissing and making advances toward Capanelli.
Capanelli was unable to continue working and was placed on paid leave from Feb. 25, 2005, to June 4, 2005, at which point she was told to return to her job. She could not return to work, the complaint said.
"Lariviere and the city wrongfully and without cause forced Metin to resign by committing such deliberate actions that rendered Metin's work conditions intolerable," the complaint states.
As a result, her husband "sustained and continues to sustain the loss of the care, comfort, services and consortium of Metin." The complaint seeks lost wages, attorney fees and damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent supervision, assault and battery and loss of consortium.
Lariviere's lawyer said they are eager for the trial.
"I'm happy we'll have a jury," said William DiAdamo. "Our story is consistent."
DiAdamo said he had only briefly reviewed Capanelli's complaint and could not comment directly on it.
"The husband is in play now and we have to discuss what his alleged damage is," DiAdamo said.
The city finds itself in a legal predicament with both Lariviere and Fulya Capanelli suing over the alleged sexual harassment.
Lariviere's lawsuit seeks a financial settlement and reinstatement of the job he held for 25 years. His case is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 7, 2008. Fulya Capanelli is expected to be a witness for the city in that case.
Fulya Capanelli was awarded $40,000 in a workers' compensation settlement with the city and had filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Kazarosian recently withdrew that complaint and decided to bring the case to court.
City Solicitor Peter McQuillan said the city handles each case separately. Insurance company lawyers are handling Lariviere's lawsuit while McQuillan will defend the city in the Capanellis' case.
"The two cases are separate and distinct," McQuillan said. "We'll respond accordingly."
City officials said the cases, though related because of the parties involved, are based on separate issues. Capanelli's case stems from sexual harassment charges while she worked for the city. Lariviere's complaint is against the city and police for how he was removed from his job.
Lawyers for both the Capanellis and Lariviere said the city can no longer play both sides of the issue.
"It's a weird legal dilemma," Kazarosian said. "On one hand, we're pursuing a complaint and they're denying any wrongdoing. In the other case, Lariviere is saying he was forced and the defense for the city is they acted appropriately based on actions."
"They're the ones who are inconsistent," DiAdamo said. "It speaks volumes that Methuen is taking contrary opinion."