City settles lawsuit for
$610,000 over computer porn 1/7/08
Lawrences former assistant city clerk, Jennifer
Padellaro, settled her workers compensation claims
as well as her federal lawsuit against the City of
Lawrence last month for $610,000.
A settlement conference (called a lump sum conference)
took place at the Industrial Accident Board in Lawrence
on November 30, 2007 when an Administrative Judge
approved the settlement between Padellaro and the City of
Lawrence. Both her workers compensation attorney,
Alan Pierce of Salem, and her federal lawsuit attorney,
Kevin Powers of Boston, were present at the conference.
This settlement also ends the federal lawsuit against the
Attorney Alan Pierce filed a workers compensation
claim with the Industrial Accident Board in Lawrence
claiming emotional stress and mental disorder arising
from her allegations that she was sexually harassed by
then City Clerk James McGravey and that the City of
Lawrence did nothing to either prevent nor appropriately
react to the alleged harassment.
Attorney Powers of Boston also filed a complaint in
Federal court alleging sexual harassment by then City
Clerk James McGravey and retaliation by the City of
Lawrence when City Council President Patrick Blanchette
refused to hire her to replace McGravey.
Padellaro filed her lawsuits alleging that the sexual
harassment began in 1998 when her boss, then City Clerk
James McGravey, used the office computer to visit
pornographic websites and pass around pornographic
Padellaro further alleged that pornographic sites then
began popping up on her office computer while she was
trying to work. Padellaro said she reported all of this
to the city attorneys and the Mayor but, according to the
lawsuit, little was done and McGravey continued to visit
porn sites at work. McGraveys wife, Carrol Hajjar
McGravey, was an Assistant City Attorney at the time.
On June 13, 2004 City Clerk McGravey suddenly resigned
and, when Padellaro his assistant voiced
her interest in replacing McGravey as the next City
Clerk, she claims that Council President Patrick
Blanchette informed her that the council would probably
not appoint her as acting clerk after her complaints
against McGravey caused the very job opening she was
applying for. Padellaro claims that her denial of the
appointment was retaliatory by Blanchette.
Councilor Blanchette said at the time that he was
very sad about the whole incident, and
further stated that the environment in city hall is
really contentious with all of this still very fresh in
peoples minds. Jim McGravey has not been charged
with anything as of yet and I cant see how it helps
the city to hire someone whos accusations were
responsible for the vacancy in the first place. Some
people are saying that this was the plan all along. I
dont know if that is true, but I am not going to
put the city into that situation to find out.
As both cases were making their way through the different
court systems, Padellaros workers
compensation case was concluding faster than the Federal
suit, so all the parties involved agreed to settle the
workers compensation case and dismiss the Federal
On February 17, 2005, Padellaro filed the workers
compensation claim and the case was heard at Conference
on June 30, 2005.
The Judge awarded Padellaro weekly benefits in the amount
of $600 a week based upon an average weekly wage of
$1,000 per week. The City of Lawrence appealed this
decision and a Hearing was held several months later
upholding the Conference Order.
The City again appealed the case to a three-panel
reviewing board, which had not heard the case prior to
settlement. During this appeal process, Padellaro
continued to receive $600 per week in workers
While the appeal was making its way through the
workers compensation system, Attorney Pierce filed
a second workers compensation claim on December 7,
2006 for Section 28 benefits.
Section 28 benefits are double compensation benefits
if an employee is injured by reason of the serious
and willful misconduct of an employer. These
actions are almost quasi-criminal in nature. A judge will
decide after a hearing whether to award double benefits
based upon willful misconduct. A hearing on the matter
was scheduled for October 12, 2007, where it was believed
by city hall insiders that the judge was going to award
the double benefits. Thats when the parties
negotiated a settlement for a lump sum of $610,000, which
was approved on November 30th.
Had the City
been ordered to pay Section 28 benefits, Padellaro would
have received $1,200 a week going back to the date of the
injury, which was December 2, 2004.
The City of Lawrence is self-insured, meaning that this
settlement money comes directly from the Citys
budget, not an insurance company.
When asked how the City will pay for this settlement, The
Valley Patriot was advised that the settlement was
structured over several years, but the details of the
structure was not provided. In a published report last
year, City Attorney Charles Boddy said that the City had
no money in the budget to settle this case.
*Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com The January 2008 Edition
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