PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire — A federal lawsuit against Police Chief Robert Merner has been settled out of court, while details of the settlement have not yet been made public.
Merner was sued in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts by Leominster, Massachusetts, police officer Michael DeLuca, who claims he was off duty when Merner shoved him on June 7, 2013, after a Boston Bruins playoff game. Merner at the time was a Boston police supervisor charged with crowd control outside TD Garden at the time.
Judge David Hennessy on Aug. 14 marked the lawsuit as “settled,” according to a court notice. On Wednesday, the court clerk’s office posted a “settlement order of dismissal” noting the lawsuit is dismissed, “without costs and without prejudice to the right of any party, upon good cause shown, to reopen the action within 30 days if settlement is not consummated.”
Merner said Wednesday he cannot comment until the settlement agreement is formalized. Attorney Lena-Kate Ahern, from the city of Boston Law Department, said her office had no comment.
DeLuca’s lawyer, Scott Graves, said he also can’t comment until “after the details are all set in stone.”
The case had been scheduled for an Aug. 22 pre-trial conference, then a trial scheduled to begin Aug. 27. A day before Tuesday’s settlement was reached, both sides of the case filed pre-trial motions with the court.
Merner’s lawyer filed proposed jury instructions, a proposed jury verdict and proposed questions for prospective jurors. Both sides filed witness and exhibit lists and the Boston law office filed a motion seeking to exclude any evidence regarding prior complaints in personnel files for Merner and Boston police officer Charles Moore.
The DeLucas alleged in their civil suit that Moore was working as a Boston police officer, during the same incident, when he “launched” Dawn DeLuca.
In June, Judge Timothy Hillman dismissed a claim by the DeLucas that alleged Merner violated the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act. In upholding the DeLucas’ assault allegation, the judge wrote that while Merner’s “use of force occurred within his discretionary functions, I find that the facts may permit a reasonable factfinder to conclude that he was not acting in good faith.”
The judge wrote that viewing the facts in a light most favorable to DeLuca, “Mr. DeLuca did nothing to warrant such aggressive behavior by officer Merner.”
The settlement is expected to be formalized within a week and more details revealed at that time.