CHELSEA — A Whitefield contractor has made good on his promise to sue the town to retain his plowing contract.

Frank Monroe’s attorney, Sean Farris, filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit Wednesday in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta. The suit, which Monroe has threatened since the spring, includes one count of negligent misrepresentation and one count of punitive damages.

“There is absolutely no question that Monroe had a valid contract for this plowing season,” Farris said. “For the town’s attorney, or its officials to tell you otherwise, is simply not based upon reality.”

Monroe’s lawsuit comes as the town is already reeling from a lawsuit filed by former town clerk Cookie Kelley and the arrest of a former chairman of the Board of Selectmen Carole Swan, who is charged with accepting kickbacks from Monroe.

Monroe held a town contract to plow roads from Oct. 15, 2008 through May 15, 2010.

Farris said Chelsea selectmen added an amendment to that contract in March 2010 that extended the agreement to 2012.

The document said Monroe was to be paid $114,000 for the 2010-11 plowing season and another $114,000 for the 2011-12 season.

Town attorney Stephen Langsdorf, however, said selectmen say they never signed an amendment to extend Monroe’s contract. Farris said the extension and amendment to Monroe’s original contract was signed by all three selectmen and included a specific payment schedule for both years.

Farris said Monroe made every possible effort to resolve the matter with town officials. He said the town would have received outstanding services at a more-than-reasonable price if officials had honored the contract.

“The town’s poor decision will now put them at risk of a substantial judgment against them and will unfortunately cost both sides significant time, costs and attorney’s fees,” Farris said. “Mr. Monroe is confident that he will prevail in this lawsuit. That’s why they put the contract back out to bid.”

Selectmen awarded a four-year winter plow contract in September to Steve McGee of McGee Construction in West Gardiner.

Langsdorf said the town intends to vigorously contest Monroe’s legal suit.

He said Monroe is involved in a criminal case with former selectwoman Swan, although Monroe is not facing any charges connected to the alleged payments to Swan.

Police said Monroe has admitted that he paid Swan $10,000 in 2010, near the end of his two-year plow contract.

Swan was indicted July 28 on charges of aggravated forgery, a felony, alleging she falsified a public record; attempted theft, a felony, alleging she authorized a $22,075 check from the town to pay a fraudulent invoice; and two counts of improper compensation for services, alleging she solicited or accepted money in return for promoting a contract while she was a public official.

Langsdorf said Monroe will be required to prove in court that he had a two-year extension with the town.

“He has not been able to produce a signed or even complete contract to support his position,” Langsdorf said. “Despite numerous requests, he has only provided two photocopied pages of what appears to be a five or six page draft agreement that was never signed by the selectmen. The selectmen at the time — none of whom are selectmen now — will all testify that they agreed to give Monroe a one-year extension for the 2010-2011 winter season.”

Langsdorf said Monroe’s case relies solely on his word, without supporting documents, and in opposition to all three former selectmen: Sharon Morang, Tanya Condon and Swan, who he claims signed the document.

And given the fact that Monroe admitted he paid Swan more than $10,000 to retain the plowing contract, Langsdorf said his credibility is “extremely suspect.”

“His complaint also improperly seeks the full amount he would have been paid if there was a contract, without accounting for the considerable costs of completing the plowing work, including fuel, labor and vehicle maintenance,” he said.

Langsdorf said selectmen are looking into covering the legal costs of the lawsuit and any judgment through the town’s liability insurance.

Kelley says the town owes her $89,437 in back pay and benefits after she was fired from her town clerk post in June. Costs associated with Kelley’s legal action will be covered by the town’s liability insurance, the Maine Municipal Risk Pool.

“They’re checking MMA to see if there’s coverage, but I think it’s unlikely,” Langsdorf said of the Monroe lawsuit. “It would be unusual for liability-type of insurance to cover a breach of contract suit.”

Town officials say Kelley never held a valid contract. Langsdorf said former town manager Angela Gordon signed a three-year contract with Kelley in 2010 without the approval of selectmen.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]


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