Town of Millbury and Millbury Police Association, MassCOP Local 128 – Termination of Kimberly Brothers

On July 19, 2013, Arbitrator Timothy Buckalew reinstated Millbury Police Detective Kimberly Brothers, who terminated in August 2012 for allegedly “harassing” three residents of the Town.  Two women who had formerly dated Detective Brothers’ boyfriend, and one who had recently ended her friendship with Detective Brothers, accused Detective Brothers of either following them in a cruiser, or parking near their workplaces in order to intimidate them.

The Union, represented by Attorney Leigh Panettiere of Sandulli Grace, P.C., demonstrated at the arbitration that Det. Brothers, a busy and well-respected detective who before being promoted to detective was an extremely productive patrol officer, had been assigned to official police duties that often brought her near the homes and workplaces of the accusers.  The Union was also able to present numerous instances of inconsistencies and untruths in the testimony of the three accusers, and that the accusers were all talking to each other about Det. Brothers.  Additionally, the Union demonstrated that the investigator failed to inquire about any of the inconsistencies in the stories the accusers told.

The Arbitrator rejected the allegations of harassment.  He called the Town’s investigation “hasty and inadequate.”  He found that all three of the accusers were motivated to lie, and he found Det. Brothers to be “credible and consistent.”

The Town also accused Det. Brothers of “excessive texting,” clearly in an attempt to shore up the weak harassment allegations.  The Police Department had no policy on texting.  The Town never reviewed the text records of any other officer in the department, and did not even give Det. Brothers an opportunity to defend herself against this allegation during the investigation.  Moreover, the Union presented testimony of fellow officers and the Chief of Police that Det. Brothers did not text on duty any more than other officers in the department.  The Arbitrator credited the testimony of those witnesses, and stated, “the Town cannot not show excessive texting when it has no standard from which to argue the employee deviated.”

The Arbitrator delivered the Millbury Policy Association a resounding victory in this case, ordering Det. Brothers reinstated with full back pay and restoration of all benefits, including details and overtime.  Det. Brothers returned to her Detective position on August 26, 2013.  This is the third in a series of recent victories for the Millbury Police Association.  The Arbitrator’s Award in the Kim Brothers case can be read here.


Attleboro Police Association, MassCOP Local 352 – Accidental Disability Retirement of Detective James Cote

On November 2, 2010, Attleboro Police Detective James Cote, who was also President of the Attleboro Police Association, MassCOP Local 352, suffered a cardiac arrest in his home and was in critical condition for days.  MassCOP members throughout the state showed their support for Det. Cote and his family.  Det. Cote made an astounding recovery in the face of a prognosis of a mere 5% chance of survival.  However, he suffered memory loss from lack of oxygen.  While able to resume many of the activities of his daily life, Det. Cote was unable to continue his work as a police officer, and had to retire at the age of forty.

Det. Cote’s Union, represented by Leigh Panettiere of Sandulli Grace, P.C., assisted Det. Cote in filing an application for accidental disability retirement with the City of Attleboro Retirement Board, taking the position that Det. Cote’s cardiac arrest was work-related.  Det. Cote’s cardiologist diagnosed Det. Cote with a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, usually an inherited condition.  Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often causes sudden death in professional athletes, who appear completely healthy one moment but die of a sudden cardiac arrest the next.  One member of the medical panel believed that the existence of this so called “risk factor” exempted Det. Cote from the heart law presumption.

However, the Union was able to demonstrate through Police Department records and the testimony of Det. Cote’s fellow detectives that Det. Cote’s underlying heart condition had been exacerbated by the stress of a high-profile, high-pressure murder investigation that Det. Cote was spearheading up until the night before his cardiac arrest, and that, therefore, even if the heart law presumption did not apply, Det. Cote was entitled to an accidental disability retirement because his job had accelerated the condition.

Thanks to a well-written, thorough affidavit by Det. Cote’s cardiologist, a dedicated local Retirement Board willing to do the extra work necessary to understand the medical evidence, and the support of his Union and the Police Department, the Accidental Disability Retirement application was accepted by the Retirement Board, and it was approved by PERAC on June 27, 2013.

MassCOP and Attorney Panettiere were happy to be able to assist Det. Cote in the face of this daunting injury, and continue to send their good wishes to him and his family.