Attorney fees mount in SAD 63 suits

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 09, 2008, at 10:58 p.m.

HOLDEN, Maine — Attorney fees totaling well over $213,000 have been tallied in the past year, stemming from now fired SAD 63 Superintendent Louise Regan suing the district and several board members.

And the trial date hasn’t even been set yet. Regan’s attorney is taking depositions of those named in the lawsuits.

“I can tell you that my client has incurred over $150,000 in attorney fees as of right now,” attorney Thad Zmistowski of Bangor, who represents Regan, said last week.

Regan is suing SAD 63 and five of the eight school board members who were on the panel a year ago, claiming defamation and violation of her rights related to actions taken at their Oct. 22, 2007, meeting, and the subsequent investigation into her conduct and her firing.

“To date, we have billed $38,000 defending the district for Louise’s various charges and claims,” Auburn attorney Bryan Dench, who was hired by SAD 63 on March 11, said Friday, “much of which will be reimbursed by the insurance company.”

There is also a $25,919 charge from a Portland firm that originally represented the district, according to a bill submitted on April 11.

Therese Anderson, Karen Clark, Linda Goodrich, Robert Kiah and Dion Seymour are the board members named in Regan’s suit. The five allowed Seymour to read aloud a letter of concern at their October 2007 school board meeting about Regan’s conduct related to audiotapes of a previous meeting.

Goodrich, who recently resigned, and Seymour, who lost his seat during the June local election, are no longer on the board.

In addition to the federal lawsuits, Regan also has filed two complaints with the Maine Human Rights Commission, claiming she was discriminated against and harassed for being a whistle-blower. In those, the former superintendent says she is being targeted because she reported to police that the audiotapes had been removed improperly from the central office. The tapes in question were returned later the same day.

The third-party administrator for the insurance company, Aspen Specialty Insurance Co.-APEX Public Entity Insurance Program, issued a letter on Jan. 3 that states the policy has a “claim policy limit of $1 million and an annual aggregate policy limit of $1 million, with a deductible in the amount of $5,000.”

Paperwork filed by Zmistowski includes a 41-page complaint with additional exhibits and an amended complaint. He is deposing most of the named board members for the entire seven hours allowed by law.

“If we are successful on any of these claims, she [Regan] is entitled to payment by the district of her attorney fees,” Zmistowski said.

After the depositions are concluded, “There is additional discovery to be completed,” Dench said. “After all the discovery closes, then the case will be set for trial. … That will be in a few months.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/11/09/news/bangor/attorney-fees-mount-in-sad-63-suits/ printed on November 27, 2014