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Parties dispute fired administrator’s claims



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, June 10, 2019

LEBANON — Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, the hospital’s CEO and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health have moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a former administrator of The Woodlands.

The Lebanon hospital, in its June 3 response to the suit filed by Quechee resident Timothy Martin in federal court in Concord, stands by its actions in communicating Martin’s termination last year to the residents of 63 units at the Woodlands, an independent living facility on APD’s campus, and 76 units at Harvest Hill, a neighboring assisted living facility.

APD, through its attorney William Pandolph of the Concord-based firm Sulloway & Hollis, acknowledges that its CEO Sue Mooney sent a memo to alert residents of Martin’s termination and explained the termination by saying that Martin had engaged in “a pattern of unprofessional conduct.”

But APD denies that it communicated this information improperly.

“Publicity is not the same as publication,” Pandolph wrote. “It is not an invasion of privacy to communicate a fact concerning a plaintiff’s private life to a small group of persons.”

In his suit, Martin alleged that the way he was fired was “malicious.” He seeks a jury trial and hundreds of thousands of dollars of damages “for the wanton, willful and reckless conduct of the defendants in intentionally disclosing private matters that were never meant to be, nor needed to be, public.” His lawsuit, filed in March, said he was making a “six-figure” salary but after being fired was working a part-time job at $14.50 an hour.

Martin alleged that the hospital’s actions led him to become “unemployable in his field during his sixties, when he is at the top of his earning power, all due to Google Death that would never have happened if Susan Mooney had not been intentionally cruel and vindictive by spreading a private matter of no public concern far and wide,” Martin’s attorney Chuck Douglas, of the Concord-based firm Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, wrote in the lawsuit.

Martin, reached by phone on Monday, declined to comment on the case and referred a reporter to Douglas, who could not be reached for comment.

APD, in its filing, denies four counts: invasion of privacy by public disclosure of private facts; invasion of privacy by intrusion upon seclusion; defamation; and breach of contract; as well as a fifth count against Mooney asserting intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In addition, because D-HH was not involved in Martin’s employment or termination, the motion asks that claims against D-HH be dismissed.

“The complaint does not state any facts concerning any wrongdoing on the part of DHH, and none can be inferred from the facts alleged,” Pandolph said.

The filing states that the information provided to residents about Martin’s termination was not related to his private life, but related to his role leading a continuing care retirement community, which is licensed by the state of New Hampshire.

“Where Martin works (or where he no longer works), as well as the reason for his termination, is not a private matter,” Pandolph states.

Pandolph explains that Martin was terminated, at least in part, for “improper actions” he took in connection with an effort to obtain a promotion to lead both The Woodlands and Harvest Hill through the position of executive director of APD Lifecare.

In addition, the filing contends that while Mooney published information about Martin’s termination, she did not distribute it to the public at large. Nor was it specific about the reason for his termination.

Pandolph states that the information provided in Mooney’s letter cannot be considered defamation because “the statement in the memorandum was true.”

It was also presented to the residents who were affected by Martin’s termination and therefore had an interest in knowing why he had left.

The Valley News obtained the memo and published a story about Martin’s termination and a subsequent story about three former employees’ complaints about Martin.

Pandolph denies the breach of contract claim because APD did not have a contract with Martin, who was employed at-will. In addition, APD did not disclose the contents of Martin’s personnel file, Pandolph wrote.

The filing says that Mooney’s actions in terminating Martin, having a successor at his desk on the day he was terminated, opposing Martin’s unemployment compensation and sending the memo to residents were not sufficient to be considered “extreme and outrageous” and so could not have created “severe emotional distress.”

“...Martin alleges only that he suffered public embarrassment and humiliation, loss of income, ability to find work in his field, and experienced ‘Google Death’ forever,” Pandolph wrote. “Nowhere does he specifically reference any emotional distress.”

Martin’s response to the motion to dismiss is due in court by July 8.

Valley News Staff Writer Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.