Seekonk police chief files lawsuit against town after termination without ‘just cause’

Seekonk Police Chief Dean Isabella is seen with his lawyer, Wednesday, Jan. 18 2023. (WLNE)

SEEKONK, Mass. (WLNE) — Seekonk Police Chief Dean Isabella filed a lawsuit Thursday against the town after the Board of Selectmen voted to terminate his contract early.

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday on the termination, without sharing reasons why they voted that way.

According to court documents obtained by ABC 6 News,  his lawyers argue that the town can’t discipline or terminate Isabella without “just cause.”

His lawyers further explained that Isabella, who has a three year contract that expires on Dec. 1, 2023, has “properly and duly performed all duties and obligations” as the chief.

On Jan. 5, according to the lawsuit, without notice or reason, Isabella was called to the town administrator’s office.

“During that meeting, the town administrator informed Chief Isabella that he was being placed on paid administrative leave and advised that the [Board of Selectmen] would be meeting on January, 18, 2023 to rescind his appointment as chief of police,” read the court documents.

Town Administrator Shawn Cadime told ABC 6 News that Seekonk police needed a “directional shift.”

Five days later, Isabella received a written correspondence from Cadime that said the Board of Selectmen will be voting to rescind his appointment and terminating his employment as chief, according to the documents.

During Wednesday’s meeting, his lawyers said that the Board of Selectmen “presented no evidence or allegations of any wrongdoing by Chief Isabella that would purportedly justify his termination or the termination of his contract.”

Isabella’s lawyers argue that as a result of the town’s violation of the chief’s constitutional rights, Isabella has “suffered substantial monetary damages, physical and mental injuries, irreparable damage to his reputation and other irreparable harms and damages.”

As a result, Isabella is asking for “compensation for damages sustained by our client due to the acts and omissions of the town.”

Isabella’s termination goes into effect Jan. 20.

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