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Kassotis v. Town of Fitzwilliam

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

August 28, 2014

Wayne H. Kassotis
v.
Town of Fitzwilliam

Argued April 16, 2014.

Editorial Note:

Under New Hampshire procedural rule this decision is subject to motion for rehearing, as well as formal revision before publication in the New Hampshire reports.

Cheshire.

Sheldon, Davis, Wells & Hockensmith, P.C., of Keene (James Romeyn Davis on the brief and orally), for the petitioner.

Orr & Reno, P.A., of Concord (Jeffrey C. Spear on the brief and orally), for the respondent.

HICKS, J. DALIANIS, C.J., and CONBOY and LYNN, JJ., concurred.

OPINION

Page 1197

Hicks, J.

The petitioner, Wayne H. Kassotis, appeals a decision of the Superior Court (Kissinger, J.) dismissing his complaint, arising from the nonrenewal of his employment contract, against the respondent, the Town of Fitzwilliam (Town). We affirm.

The following facts are drawn from the trial court's order and the record, or are otherwise undisputed. The petitioner and the Town entered into an employment contract (contract) under which the petitioner agreed to serve as the Town's Chief of Police for a two-year term beginning April 1, 2011, and ending April 1, 2013. The contract provided that it would " continue in full force and effect from its expiration date until a new contract has been mutually agreed upon unless one party notifies the other party of its intent not to negotiate a renewal of the contract within one hundred and fifty (150) days of its expiration."

By letter dated November 1, 2012, the Board of Selectmen of the Town (Selectmen) provided the petitioner with notice that, " under the terms of the [contract], and in accordance with Section 14. Length of Contract, ... we do not intend to negotiate a renewal of the contract." The November 1, 2012, notice further provided: " [T]his notice should not be construed to imply that we do not wish to continue your employment with the town. It is not the current intention of the town to terminate your employment at this time." By letter dated April 1, 2013, the contract's expiration date, the Selectmen provided a second notice stating, in pertinent part:

This will confirm that the Board of Selectmen has decided not to renew [the contract]. Accordingly, your last day of employment with the Town will be April 1, 2013, at which point your employment with the Town will end due to expiration of the two year term of employment and non-renewal of the contract.

On May 15, 2013, the petitioner filed a complaint against the Town seeking, among other things, reinstatement as Chief of Police, damages, costs, and attorney's fees, for the Town's alleged failure to comply with RSA 105:2-a, which provides procedural protections to appointed chiefs of police who are " dismiss[ed] ." RSA 105:2-a (2013). The Town moved to dismiss, arguing that, " [b]ecause the ...


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