June 18, 2018
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Sangerville obtains insurance against lawsuits

By Bill Pearson, Piscataquis Observer

SANGERVILLE, Maine — The selectmen unanimously voted to purchase a $1 million employment liability insurance policy on Dec. 13 from Howard Insurance in Dover-Foxcroft. The board decided to purchase the insurance, which protects the town against lawsuits pertaining to wrongful termination and sexual harassment cases, after declining to renew the protection last year.

Town Manager Dave Pearson indicated the town didn’t renew the protection last year after Howard Insurance requested that changes be made in how the municipality stored its personnel records and performance evaluations. The insurance company wanted those records kept in a secure location.

Howard Insurance requested those changes be made within a 60-day time period, but former Town Manager Michelle Dumoulin declined to renew the employment liability insurance, according to town officials.

The employment liability insurance will not be used to protect the town against a lawsuit filed by Sangerville’s former licensed plumbing inspector in September. Frank Ruksznis claimed in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor that he was discharged improperly and was slandered by remarks made by former Selectman Lance Burgess.

Town officials were told by Howard Insurance — which also holds Sangerville’s general liability coverage — that Ruksznis’ claim would be covered only under the insurance policy the town dropped earlier in the year. The selectmen received a different viewpoint from Eaton Peabody attorney Thad Zmistowski, who is defending Burgess on the town’s behalf. He believes the town’s general liability insurance would pay any claims awarded to Ruksznis.

The town has enacted the record-keeping changes recommended by Howard Insurance so it will have protection regarding future wrongful termination and sexual harassment claims.

In other action, the town has decided to put three recently tax-acquired properties out to bid. The town took possession of a 10-acre parcel on Flanders Hill Road, a lot owned by Yankee Realty and a home on 1.77 acres at 235 Douty Hill Road. The town plans on advertising the properties’ availability in local newspapers and seeking sealed bids to be opened on Thursday, Jan. 26. The selectmen adopted a new tax-acquired property policy this year that allows them to accept or reject all bids.

The selectmen also have set Nov. 15 as the final date for burials in the town cemetery. Two Sangerville men who were involved in the Dover-Foxcroft shooting last month recently were buried in the lot.

Town officials decided a specific policy was needed to address November burials. The new policy will allow the Nov. 15 date to be extended only with the permission of the superintendent of cemeteries and the sexton.

The board also reappointed Fire Chief Chuck Beane to another one-year term.

The selectmen next will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, in the community room.

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