Judge Rejects Former Sandwich School Superintendentâ€™s Latest Plea
By: JAMES KINSELLA, June 9, 2014
The former superintendent of Sandwich public schools not only has lost her latest plea to alter the judgment in her breach-of-contract case, but has been ordered to pay the defendants’ costs in arguing against the plea.
Judge Christopher J. Muse, who decided in favor of Mary Ellen Johnson and awarded her $434,600, last Friday, June 6, rejected Dr. Johnson’s plea for a larger judgment and for the defendants, the Sandwich School Committee and four then-committee members, to pay her legal fees in the case.
“In this current motion, masked inappropriately as one to ‘alter or amend a judgment,’ plaintiff is asserting previously failed arguments, which the court finds has resulted in delay and expense to the defendants, and unnecessary time and effort expended by the court,” Judge Muse wrote.
The judge, who heard the case in Barnstable Superior Court, wrote that he already had reviewed and considered, “(and reconsidered)” written submissions and oral arguments, and had issued detailed findings and ruling on Dr. Johnson’s claims for items such as salary, buyback of vacation and sick leave days, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
“While it is clear the plaintiff sincerely believes she is entitled to additional compensation,” Judge Muse wrote, he also said that the law holds that motions for reconsideration are not the appropriate place to raise new arguments inspired by a loss before the motion judge.
“This motion is therefore denied,” the judge wrote.
In a related decision, Judge Muse agreed with the defendants’ opposition motion that he said “aptly described the ‘plaintiff’s latest motion [as] nothing more than a stubborn attempt to reopen issue exhaustively litigated and painstakingly decided by this court in the last year.’ ”
The judge found Dr. Johnson’s motion “unnecessary, and unfairly caused defendants additional expense to oppose it, and added delay to the final resolution of the case.”
Judge Muse allowed the defendants’ motion that Dr. Johnson be required to pay their attorneys’ fees and costs.
Attorney John J. Davis of Boston, who is representing the committee and the individual members, said Monday that he had yet to calculate the sum now due from Dr. Johnson.