Court won’t hear Simons’ case again

  • The Jaffrey Public Library Trustees unanimously voted to terminate Marilyn Simons employment after a public hearing on Monday that lasted over six hours. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 09, 2017 6:6PM
TimelineMay 30: Jaffrey Public Library trustees vote to fire Marilyn SimonsJune 26: Public hearing held at Simons’ request, trustees again vote to fire SimonsJuly 18: Simons’ attorney files petition for writ of certiorari Sept. 12: Judge dismisses caseSep

The Cheshire Superior Court has once again ruled against a former Jaffrey Public Library employee, denying a motion to reconsider her wrongful termination case. 

Court Clerk James I. Peale submitted a notice of decision on Thursday, stating that Judge David W. Ruoff denied Marilyn Simons’ motion for consideration of the court’s previous order. The one-page document did not offer any reason for the denial.

Simons’ attorney Heather Burns submitted a motion for reconsideration on Sept. 21, arguing that Ruoff’s decision to dismiss the case did not address a claim that the library trustees violated RSA 202-A:17 by terminating her without good cause. 

“[Simons] maintains that the trustees did not have cause to terminate her, and that their proffered reasons for terminating her were pretextual, because the real reason for the termination was age discrimination,” read the motion. 

Burns’ motion said due process was violated for a number of reasons, including but not limited to: witnesses at a June 26 public hearing not being required to testify under oath; Library Director Julie Perrin being allowed to introduce evidence during the hearing that should have been considered part of Simons’ personnel file; Burns not being allowed to conduct cross-examination of witnesses; and the chair of the trustees attempting to interfere with examinations during the public hearing. 

Kelly Dowd, an attorney representing the Jaffrey Public Library and town of Jaffrey, filed an objection to the motion on the 29th, saying that “the Jaffrey Board of Trustees went above and beyond providing Marilyn Simons an opportunity to present her side of the story, the evidentiary basis for their conclusion to terminate Marilyn Simons was overwhelming, exhaustive and conclusive, and the Petition should remain dismissed.”

Simons, who previously worked at the library for over 40 years, was initially fired by the library trustees after a May 30 public hearing. 

Trustees cited a number of reasons in firing Simons, including: failure to improve performance, insubordination, poor customer service, inability to follow procedure, and inefficiency of duties.

A six-plus hour public hearing was held at Simons’ request on June 26, in accordance with RSA 202-A:17. At the end of the hearing, the trustees still decided to fire Simons. 

Burns filed a petition for writ of certiorari on June 30, alleging that Simons was unlawfully terminated and discriminated against because of her age. The petition also alleged that trustees violated her due process. 

Judge Ruoff granted the town and library’s motion to dismiss the case on Sept. 12 saying that Simons received adequate notice of her termination and that her due process was not violated. 

“[The] Plaintiff has not disputed [the] Defendants’ explanation of the hearing she was provided, and the undisputed facts both parties have alleged portray that [the] Plaintiff had [a] meaningful, lengthy termination hearing on June 26, 2017,” read the order. “Construing the facts in a light most favorable to [the] Plaintiff, the Court finds the facts alleged fail to state a claim, and Defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action is granted.”

Dowd said Monday morning that if Simon was to pursue further action, it would have to be through the state supreme court. Simons could also file a discrimination suit at the state or federal level, according to Dowd. 

When reached for comment Monday morning, Simons would not comment on her next steps. A message to Burns was not returned by press time. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.