During a press conference at on March 23, Mayor Joseph M. Polisena announced that the town will not have to pay $4.35 million in damages stemming from a civil rights case brought against the town under the late former Mayor William Macera.
"It would have been financially devastating to this town" if the judgment had remained in effect, Polisena said.
Polisena explained that Town Solicitor William Conley pursued a reversal of the award in Providence Superior Court, which followed a judgment against the town.
During the press conference on March 23, Conley explained that the suit resulted from bullying incidents between 2001 and 2005. The victim's parents, John and Gina Funaro, sued the town, the police department, and the school department after Giavanna Fusaro, was arrested — without justification, the court ruled.
The former administration of the late William Macera never fought the case, according to Conley, and notice of the $4.35 million award was sent to the town on November 16, 2007.
Conley then petitioned the court to overrule the damages award, arguing that the town was not responsible for the injuries Giavanna suffered at the hands of bullies.
It's not the first time that Conley has succeeded in fighting such awards and getting them reversed; in 2009, he went to court and proved that the town should not be held liable for a $377,000 judgment levied against Mr. Macera and the town for the wrongful termination of Fred Iafrate in 1998.
Watch for more information later today on JohnstonPatch.