Epsom, town firefighter in settlement talks

  • The current Epsom town hall is located in a strip mall just north of the traffic circle. Geoff Forester / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/20/2018 5:18:40 PM

A trial date in the lawsuit brought against the town of Epsom by one of its own firefighter-EMTs set for earlier this month was again put off after the two parties decided to enter settlement talks.

Attorneys for the town and Richard Bilodeau, who is accusing his employer of retaliating against him after he reported sexual harassment, jointly asked Merrimack County Superior Court judge John Kissinger in late May to continue an upcoming trial date. The town of Epsom recently changed insurance companies, and its current and former carriers needed to negotiate settlement liability, attorneys wrote in their motion.

“The chances of settlement are good,” attorneys for Bilodeau and the town said.

Bilodeau’s suit has been ongoing since 2015. It accuses town officials of ostracizing him and denying him work opportunities and training after he complained that Brian Michael, a police officer, had sexually harassed him in several incidents dating back to 2010.

Bilodeau also claimed the fire chief, R. Stewart Yeaton, sometimes demeaned him in front of his colleagues and on one occasion slapped him.

The town has acknowledged Michael was asked to apologize to Bilodeau for inappropriate behavior. But they denied that Bilodeau was treated unfairly by officials after he complained.

The case has also spawned a spinoff suit. In 2017, Matthew Moulton, a former fire captain in Epsom, filed suit against the town and Yeaton accusing the fire chief of retaliating against him for not falsifying Yeaton’s time sheets and for sticking up for Bilodeau. Moulton publicly resigned in April 2017, a few months before filing his lawsuit, by reading a statement before the select board slamming Yeaton for mismanagement and for turning a blind eye to Bilodeau’s complaints.

The town has denied Moulton’s accusations. A trial date is set for November.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)

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