The Dukes County Superior Court Wednesday dismissed multiple allegations made last year in a suit filed by Patricia Mark against Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Hanavan and town administrator Jay Grande.
Allegations of libel, slander, and constructive discharge were dismissed based on a lack of legal facts.
Attorney and former Tisbury Police Chief Ted Saulnier, who represented Mark, said his client reported a false statement made by an unspecified person, resulting in her reprimand and subsequent resignation as administrative secretary to the chief.
The original claim, that Hanavan violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by reprimanding Mark after she reported her concerns, was negated because statement of any specific misconduct was absent in Mark’s initial report.
The whistleblower statutes protect government workers from retaliation after reporting apparent legal misconduct such as safety concerns and other protected activity, according to the U.S. Department of Labor website.
Charges of libel and slander were dismissed after Judge Mitchell Kaplan ruled that Saulnier did not provide sufficient evidence of Hanavan being involved in those activities, and that he was stating legal conclusions, as opposed to pleading facts.
The charge of constructive discharge was filed by Mark after she resigned from her position.
Constructive discharge is when an employee voluntarily leaves a position because the work environment has become intolerable or hostile, according to the mass.gov website.
Kaplan dismissed the constructive discharge allegation because no evidence was provided by Saulnier that proved Mark had no alternative but to quit.
The charges of constructive discharge, libel, and slander could be brought again so long as evidence is supplied to support the claims.
(NOTE: I made my little corrections, this is final version, please delete the others) This headline,”Tisbury Police Chief Exonerated” is potentially misleading and very prejudicial against the claimant, Patricia Mark. The MV Times is taking license with the use of this word”exonerate”. It should be clear this was not an examination and conclusion based on the facts presented, therefore absolving Hanavan of liability, it was simply a determination of insufficient facts presented to proceed, not a final adjudication on the merits. Dismissed without prejudice, Mark is free to refile if she attaches sufficient evidence to meet the courts standard. I am very concerned that using “exonerate” infers the court believes Mark is not telling the truth. No such determination has been made. Hanavan remains possibly guilty, possibly innocent. A lack of clarity by The Times in this case is potentially prejudicial and defamatory. Write your stories with a higher degree of accuracy.
As a personal note, I have always found Patricia Mark to be exceedingly polite, professional, honest and a great asset to the TPD. It is regrettable she has found herself spat out of the TPD after so many years of faithful service. Her “day in court” remains a part of the future.
It’s been more than a year after the case was filed and no supporting evidence was produced before yesterday’s hearing? Story makes it clear that Patricia Mark can bring case back. If case does come back, we’ll be sure to cover it.
Exonerated seems like it may not be the correct word. I wish the times put the same amount of time and research into Mrs.Mark’s court proceedings as the times did with Officer Santon’s investigation. The times had plenty of documents and information regarding the Santon investigation every week or so but for some reason when the chief is the center of the investigation the times does not do any of there own investigating. I hope Mrs. Mark continues her fight until the truth comes out. The island and especially all island police departments should be standing behind Mrs.Mark, as I believe they are!
The key word is documents. We’re more than willing. Point us in the right direction or if there truly are documents as you suggest, send them on over.
Unusual case. Normally, these days, all that is needed is a solid accusation for public conviction.
George, two people at minimum, myself included, have questioned your use of the word “exonerated “. And each response, you have completely avoided the examination of this word. If there was any lack of documentation of these allegations against Hanavan, it equals an “insufficiency “, NOT an “exoneration”. Stop avoiding the issue. Patricia Mark did not submit 40 blank pages to the court. Islandresident18 is right, lets bring the same microscope to this case, no detail left out, as you did to Santons case.
We shouldn’t have to do your research for you but go to the law dictionary, this is extremely misleading and unfairly prejudicial to Patricia Mark. Focus, please.
The headline is entirely misleading. From the response to what is an obvious misleading headline, it seems intentionally so on the part of the Times.
Your headline “Tisbury Police chief exonerated” is incorrect, and damaging to the plaintiff. Exonerate means, “to clear or absolve from blame or criminal charge,” Ref: Collins English Dictionary. Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Hanavan and Town Administrator Jay Grande have not been cleared from blame, or criminal charge. Therefore an apology from MV Times to Ms Patricia Mark is warranted and should be published forthwith. I do not know Ms Mark and have never met her. I write simply for the promotion of fairness and justice.
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