Lawsuit claims firing from retirement community at Alice Peck spiteful

  • Timothy Martin

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/1/2019 10:12:24 PM

LEBANON — The former administrator of The Woodlands retirement community at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital has sued the hospital, its president and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, alleging the way he was fired in February 2018 was “malicious” and has forever harmed his career.

Quechee resident Timothy Martin, through a 13-page lawsuit filed in federal court, said Alice Peck Day President Susan Mooney’s decision to send a memo to more than 100 people stating Martin was fired “because of a pattern of unprofessional conduct” was done in a “wanton manner” and breached his employment contract.

The memo went to the 139 units that comprised The Woodlands and Harvest Hill, an independent and assisted-living community also on APD’s campus, according to the lawsuit.

The Valley News obtained a copy of the memo and reported on his firing, and also spoke with three former employees of the Woodlands, who said they had earlier complained about physical contact initiated by Martin. Martin declined to comment at the time, and in his lawsuit asserted that the in the wake of the #MeToo movement, “readers were left to wrongly assume the ‘unprofessional conduct’ phrase could only mean sexual assault or sexual harassment of female employees.”

Martin had been making a “six-figure” salary working for Alice Peck Day Health Systems, and had successfully filled The Woodlands, “bringing in approximately $16 million in new entrance fees during his tenure,” the lawsuit said.

But after his firing, because of so-called “Google Death,” Martin had to work part-time jobs at $14.50 an hour, his Concord-based attorney, Chuck Douglas III, wrote in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Concord last week.

“The after-effects of the defendants’ unnecessarily cruel and petty conduct have resulted in the plaintiff being 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,” Douglas wrote.

Douglas in a phone interview on Monday described the term as something that occurs when employers perform an internet search for prospective employees and find their names associated with not-so-favorable links.

Martin has sued Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, Alice Peck Day Lifecare Center, Mooney and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, which counts APD as an affiliate, on five counts. They include two counts of invasion of privacy, defamation, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Martin seeks a jury trial and “many hundreds of thousands of dollars” in damages, Douglas said on Monday.

“It’s one of those things that was tremendously devastating to him and should have never been put out the way it was,” Douglas said of Mooney’s February 2018 memo.

Reached via telephone, Martin declined to comment on the case. He said he is living and working in Quechee, but at a local market, not in the field he hoped to eventually retire in.

Spokeswomen from both Alice Peck Day and Dartmouth-Hitchcock declined to comment, saying, “We are prohibited to comment on litigation or personnel matters.”

Martin was hired as the administrator of The Woodlands, a 64-unit independent living facility, in August 2014. He previously had served as CEO of the 400-resident Taylor Community in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.

Despite his success in helping recruit residents to The Woodlands, his working relationship with Mooney “gradually” went downhill and ended with his firing on Feb. 15, 2018, the lawsuit said. He is “not challenging” Mooney’s right to fire him, the lawsuit said, but rather how it was carried out.

“Rather than merely parting ways, Dr. Susan Mooney chose to act in a malicious and wanton manner,” Douglas wrote in the lawsuit.

She did so in several ways, he alleged, by firing him on the day he was leaving for vacation, having his replacement show up at his desk that day and distributing the memo that included an allegation of “unprofessional conduct.”

Martin accused Mooney of “intentionally disclosing private matters” despite a “contractual promise,” causing him to suffer “public embarrassment and humiliation” and a loss of income, among other things, the suit states.

It was “foreseeable” that the memo about Martin’s firing would be obtained by the media and become public, Douglas wrote.

The memo didn’t elaborate on what Martin was alleged to have done that constituted “unprofessional conduct.” A hospital spokesperson at the time declined to comment on the matter, calling it “a personnel matter.”

That solidifies Martin’s argument, Douglas wrote in the lawsuit.

“Ironically, the wall of secrecy around Human Resource matters was invoked too little too late by none other than the Alice Peck Day Human Resource shop when the press called,” Douglas wrote. “The HR response is brutally telling: ‘Per our policy, we will not comment about a personnel matter.’ ”

The defendants have yet to respond formally to the lawsuit.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.




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