Former Greenport mayor again suing village over benefits

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12/01/2011 9:00 AM |

Dave Kapell

As he said he might, former Greenport mayor David Kapell has brought a new case against the village, seeking to reinstate his post-service health benefits.

Mr. Kapell, who served as mayor for 13 years before retiring in 2007, is renewing a claim that has previously been denied in two separate state court rulings. But he’s taking a different approach this time, including a new the allegation that the village committed fraud in its earlier court filings.

The former mayor wants his family put back on the village insurance plan and seeks compensation of close to $70,000. Most of that would cover the cost of insurance premiums he’s paid since June 2007, plus just over $31,000 for his legal expenses.

In response, Mayor David Nyce, who succeeded Mr. Kapell, said, “The village’s attorneys have responded to this most recent claim and have successfully defended the same twice in the past.”

Both Mr. Kapell and his attorney, Paul Levitt of Melville, declined to comment on the suit.

The dispute dates back to the first weeks of Mr. Nyce’s term when a then-new Village Board overturned the previous board’s decision — made during Mr. Kapell’s last meeting as mayor in April 2007 — granting Mr. Kapell full postretirement health coverage. That’s the same benefit given to Greenport’s CSEA workers. In granting that coverage to an elected official, the board agreed with the former mayor’s assertion that while the job is considered part time, he essentially worked on a full-time basis while also maintaining his real estate business.

Under Mr. Nyce’s leadership, the Village Board overturned that vote in June 2007.

In a ruling upheld on appeal, a state court rejected Mr. Kapell’s subsequent lawsuit, finding that the village acted within its power to amend the benefits package.

In his latest action, Mr. Kapell says the village is illegally denying him benefits while giving partial coverage to current Trustee George Hubbard.

It’s a battle over two Village Board resolutions, one approved by the Village Board in 1995 during the administration of former mayor Bill Pell and the second stripping Mr. Kapell of his coverage in June 2007. In his court papers Mr. Kapell argues that through the June 2007 vote, the board reaffirmed the policy set in 1995 offering health coverage to active and retired elected officials.

And since Mr. Hubbard receives some health benefits, the former mayor’s suit charges, the village cannot arbitrarily deny him his.

Through his claim, Mr. Kapell further charges that the courts’ rejection of his previous suit was based in part on fraudulent information provided by the village in its response.

He says the village falsely represented that the June 2007 resolution terminated all health coverage payments for Village Board members, when in fact Mr. Hubbard was still covered.

“The village … intentionally misled the court,” Mr. Kapell claims in court documents. The village, it continues, “committed fraud, made material misrepresentations to the court … acted in bad faith and in violation of the law.”

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