Weare to pay former police officer $250,000 to settle lawsuit

Monitor staff
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The town of Weare has settled a civil lawsuit pending in federal court against one of its former police officers.

Town officials agreed to pay James Carney, a former lieutenant with the Weare Police Department, a $250,000 settlement. Carney was paid $62,500 in lost wages and $93,750 in compensatory damages. In addition, Carney’s attorney Tony Soltani will be paid $93,705, according the to the settlement that was signed last month.

Carney filed suit against the town and over a dozen of its employees, including several members of the police department and members of the then-select board, in 2015. He claimed he was forced to resign after the defendants harassed him, made slanderous accusations against him and forced him into a pattern of social isolation from his peers, among things. He sought lost pay, compensatory damaged and attorney fees and costs.

Carney was a 20-year veteran of the Weare Police Department who resigned July 1, 2013.

In the 71-page lawsuit, Soltani detailed an alleged “pattern of harassment against Carney,” including fellow police officers making false allegations against him, town officials failing to notify him of the result of internal investigations, issuing illegal gag orders and isolating him from colleagues and friends.

The suit stems from events that occurred in the spring of 2013. That March, town officials accused Carney of breaching a number of department policies. In addition to allegations of threatening members of his staff, transporting alcohol in a town vehicle and having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a town employee, Carney was accused of:

Failing to enforce the town’s sexual harassment policies.

Threatening physical harm against a confidential informant.

Sharing employee personnel information with subordinates and third parties, and sharing internal investigation information with third parties.

Coercing subordinates to support his appointment to a command staff position and retaliating against those who he understood did not support his appointment.

Having off-duty physical altercations with civilians and police department employees.

Carney was placed on paid administrative leave at the time, and directed to have no contact with members of the police department other than communicating through emails to then-Chief Gregory Begin.

The town eventually dropped its investigation after Carney resigned.

As part of the settlement, Carney agrees he will not bring the same charges against the town again and will not seek reemployment with the town. Both parties agree to not discuss the case further.

According to the settlement, the compensatory damages will be billed directly to Carney through the town’s insurer, Primex. It’s unclear who will pay for the remaining $156,250 of the settlement. Weare select board chair Tom Clow declined to comment beyond acknowledging the suit’s existence.

Town administrator Naomi Bolton wrote via email that the settlement “clearly explains” the entirety of the suit will be paid out through Primex. However, the settlement states that “the Town shall pay to Mr. Carney the sum of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand and 00/100 Dollars/$250,00.00,” but does not indicate if “the Town” means Primex. An invoice from Primex for the $93,750 is attached to the settlement.

Bolton did not return a follow-up request for comment by press time.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-33009, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)