A US District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the city of Quincy by a terminated Quincy police officer who claimed the city violated his civil rights.
Joseph McGunigle, a Quincy resident and 15-year veteran of the Quincy Police Department, filed the claim in mid-May against the city, the police chief, and the police captain. He was seeking damages for income loss and damage to his reputation due to First Amendment rights violations.
The lawsuit dismissal is the latest news in a saga between the city and the officer, which began in 2006 when McGunigle started ticketing neighbors who let their dogs defecate on public property.
McGunigle continued to have disputes with neighbors over dogs through 2007. Then, in 2011, McGunigle became entangled with a neighbor in a dispute over traffic cones.
The Mayor imposed a 30-day suspension and mandated anger management classes for McGunigle over the incident.
Things seemed concluded until Police Chief Paul Keenan revoked McGunigle’s firearm license in March. The city hosted hearings about the license, and because police officers must have a firearms license in order to be employed, the discussion subsequently became about McGunigle’s termination.
McGunigle filed the lawsuit in May. As a result of the hearings, McGunigle was fired on June 11.
McGunigle is appealing the termination through an arbitrator, and the lawsuit has remained ongoing. Both sides continued to argue in court until Thursday, when Judge Richard G. Stearns issued the decision to dismiss.
According to court documents, the city entered a motion to dismiss without any response or opposition from officer McGunigle.
“In the absence of any bona fide federal claim forming the basis for subject matter jurisdiction, this Court DECLINES to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any state law claims asserted by McGunigle…Accordingly, all of McGunigle's claims arising under Massachusetts law are DISMISSED,” the motion reads.
McGunigle’s attorney, Timothy Burke, did not return repeated calls for comment, however in a motion to rescind order of dismissal, filed on July 20, Burke wrote that he had requested a two week extension to file the opposition to the city’s dismissal motion.
Although the city had agreed, the court did not know of the extension, and so filed the dismissal due to a lack of response.
Burke has subsequently asked that the motion to dismiss be rescinded. If so, the lawsuit will go back before federal court. If the request is denied, McGunigle can re-file his lawsuit in State Court.
City spokesperson Christopher Walker confirmed the dismissal but said because of the ongoing dispute relative to McGunigle’s termination, he could not comment on anything further.
City Solicitor Jim Timmins did not return calls for comment. Additionally, neither of the city’s attorneys - Geoffrey Weymuth or John Hitt - returned calls for comment.