The Connecticut Appellate Court Friday sided with Middletown, which fired its then-acting police chief for allegedly drinking off-duty while carrying a badge and having his gun visible.
Patrick McMahon said he was drinking nonalcoholic beverages at a local restaurant in September 2011. But he argued that even if he were drinking alcohol at the time, this would not have arisen to the “just cause” needed to terminate him.
McMahon sued, claiming breach of his employment contract and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
New London Superior Court Trial Referee Joseph Koletsky entered judgment for the city. During direct examination, he denied requests from plaintiff’s counsel to ask leading questions to three of four witnesses, as if on cross-examination.
In siding with Koletsky, Connecticut Appellate Court Chief Judge Alexandra DiPentima wrote: “This court declined to review the plaintiff’s claim that the trial court violated [state] statutes when it denied his counsel permission to ask leading questions of three allegedly adverse parties on direct examination.”
Joining DiPentima in the 3-0 ruling were Judges Nina Elgo and Stuart Bear.
Since the appellate court declined to review the case, Koletsky’s decision will stand.
The city had hired attorney Eric Daigle of the Daigle Law Group in Southington to conduct an investigation.
Five months after the incident, Daigle submitted his report. He interviewed 30 witnesses, half of whom reported seeing McMahon drinking alcohol in public while wearing his badge and sidearm.
Daigle concluded that McMahon’s drinking in public off-duty might not have violated department rules, but said “the plaintiff nevertheless had given false and misleading statements and had committed conduct unbecoming an officer.”
The case involved statements by Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, who claimed McMahon had threatened city employees during a press conference and had been insubordinate for attending a training session while on administrative leave.
The city fired McMahon soon after Daigle’s report.
The plaintiff’s sole claim on appeal was whether the trial court violated Section 52-178 of the Connecticut General Statutes by denying his counsel permission to ask leading questions to the three witnesses: acting Deputy Chief William McKenna, Drew and former Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, who had appointed McMahon acting police chief.
McMahon could not be reached Friday. His attorneys are Richard Padykula of Padykula Law in Windsor and Leon Rosenblatt, a Hartford solo practitioner. Neither Padykula nor Rosenblatt responded to a request for comment Friday.
Michael Rose and Cindy Cieslak, of Rose Kallor in Hartford, represented the city. Neither responded to a request for comment Friday.