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Peterborough: Town settles with former EMT in wrongful termination suit

PETERBOROUGH — Jennifer Duval, the former Peterborough emergency medical technician who was fired in March 2012 and later sued the town, charging that she was wrongfully terminated, will be paid $36,000 under the terms of a settlement announced this week.

According to a joint statement released by attorneys for Duval and the town of Peterborough, the money will be paid by the Health Trust Inc., which provides liability insurance coverage to the town, and no town money is being used toward the payment.

Duval, who was a part-time EMT for the Peterborough Fire Department, was fired after town officials determined her inability to get a blood pressure reading from a patient in an ambulance during a rescue call to Francestown in February 2012, along with earlier disciplinary actions and suspensions, was grounds for termination. The Select Board upheld that decision in May 2012 after Duval requested a grievance hearing. 

In the lawsuit that she filed in December 2012, Duval said the town acted in bad faith in firing and that memos and emails written by town employees were defamatory and libelous. 

As part of the settlement, Duval, 32, voluntarily dismissed the cases she had filed against four individual defendants who worked for the town of Peterborough — paramedic Diana Godin and Deputy Fire Chiefs Keith Rodenhiser, Brian Wall and Paul Thibault. She also submitted a letter of resignation from the Peterborough Fire Department, effective March 23, 2012. That resignation was accepted by the Peterborough Select Board and placed in Duval’s personnel file. The termination letter that Duval received on March 23, 2012, was withdrawn from Duval’s personnel file.

“Ms. Duval and the town’s agreement to settle was to avoid further expense and disruption for all parties,” the statement reads. “The town and Ms. Duval have settled as a matter of compromise. This settlement does not constitute admission or agreement by either side as to the positions of the other side, and all parties expressly deny any wrongdoing in this matter.”

According to the settlement agreement, which is on file at the Peterborough Town Clerk’s office, Duval has agreed not to seek employment with the town of Peterborough, the Peterborough Fire Department or any municipal agency or department. The agreement states that Health Trust Inc. will pay Duval $7,500 for “alleged economic loss” and $28,500, payable to Duval and her attorney, Richard Pennington, for “alleged non-economic loss and attorney’s fees.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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