Judge denies town’s request to return fill pile suit to court
FAIRFIELD — The town’s last-minute effort to return an ongoing lawsuit with Julian Enterprises to court instead of an arbitration hearing was denied by a judge last week.
On Feb. 6, Judge Barbara Bellis of the Fairfield Judicial District turned down the town’s motion to have the case returned to the court docket.
“The agreed upon arbitrator is Elaine Gordon,” the order reads. “The parties are to submit their respective payments for the arbitration proceedings no later than Feb. 11. The arbitration is ordered to go forward no later than June 15.”
First Selectman Mike Tetreau said the town would follow the judge’s order and that the Feb. 11 payment had been made.
Thomas Cotter, attorney for Julian Enterprises, said its payment was also submitted.
The original dates for the arbitration hearing were scheduled for Feb. 13-15 at the offices of Cohen and Wolf, a Bridgeport-based law firm.
Cotter said Gordon remains the arbitrator, but that the hearing has been rescheduled to June 6-7.
In late January, the town filed a motion essentially backing away from the arbitration hearing, claiming Julian had not abided by the arbitration agreement payment and discovery dates.
The motion also was a result of pressure from two selectmen who, in a memo obtained through an FOI request, objected to the original Nov. 15 withdrawal of the lawsuit against Julian to enter into binding arbitration.
Selectmen Ed Bateson and Chris Tymniak argued only the Board of Selectmen can direct action on legal matters per the town charter.
Tetreau said efforts were being carried out to make the arbitration hearing, typically a private affair, public.
“We are going to request the judge/arbitrator allow it to be public. It will be the judge’s decision,” Tetreau said. “We have instructed our attorneys to hire a court reporter to make a record of the proceedings and we will make that available to the public.”
The legal saga between the town and the property management company dates back to May 2017 when the town sued for breach of contract, claiming Julian did not reduce the amount of construction debris on a fill pile at Richard White Way.
The company filed its own lawsuit against the town for defamation.
The fill pile at Richard White Way has also been the subject of a criminal investigation undertaken by Fairfield police that dates back to summer of 2017. No official announcement has been made regarding the proceedings of the investigation.