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Nick Carter, Joe Cacace obtain $1.5M federal jury verdict in defamation case

Nicholas B. Carter and Joseph M. Cacace obtained a federal jury verdict of $1.5 million on behalf of their law enforcement client against the City of Fitchburg and its former mayor for defamatory statements and employment discrimination stemming from the withdrawal of the client's nomination as police chief in 2014.

The jury, after deliberating four hours following a nine-day trial in federal court in Worcester, found that the former mayor, Lisa A. Wong, made defamatory statements to the media about the firm's client, Scott Heagney, after she had abruptly withdrawn him for consideration as police chief.

The jury determined that the city excluded Mr. Heagney's name from consideration in part because of a criminal case against him for which no conviction resulted and for which the records were sealed.

The jury awarded Mr. Heagney $125,000 for damages to his reputation, and $625,000 for economic losses caused by the defamatory statements.  The jurors also awarded him $750,000 in punitive damages after finding the city's discriminatory conduct was "outrageous and egregious."

Mr. Heagney is also entitled to attorneys' fees.

Mr. Carter, a partner at the firm, has successfully tried numerous cases in over two decades of trial experience in state and federal courts.  Mr. Cacace concentrates his trial court practice on complex civil matters.