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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mageau lawyer says Jim is suing Charlestown

For a guy who hasn’t paid a nickel in property or car taxes in Charlestown for at least ten years, Jim Mageau doesn’t seem to mind trying to run up the taxpayers’ tab.

Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero announced at Monday's Town Council meeting  that Mageau’s lawyer told him Mageau had filed suit against the town. The issue is the town's refusal to pay Mageau's demand for $20,000 in criminal defense costs over his 2008 assault of Cliff Vanover in Town Hall.

Actually, it’s surprising that Mageau filed suit.

Even though Mageau frequently and loudly threatens to sue anyone who displeases him or doesn’t give him his way – and that’s just about everyone in town – this new lawsuit, if indeed it has been filed, is Mageau’s first since 1994.

After Mageau underwent a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation (final decree on September 11, 1996), his career as a champion litigator appeared to come to an end.

But before that, Mageau did in fact spend a lot of time in court. The following legal history was built from public records found on the Westlaw database.

He sued the town, the state or the Chariho school district at least six times, losing nearly every time. NOTE: some cases may be duplicates (renamed when the parties change):
  • 1983 – Mageau v. Wedlock (Town Council)
  • 1985 – Mageau v. Anderson (Town Council)
  • 1986 – Mageau v. Bousquet (Chariho)
  • 1987 – Mageau v. Anderson (Town Council)
  • 1993 – Mageau v. Charlestown Town Treasurer
  • 1988 – Mageau v. Smith (Chariho)
  • 1992 – Mageau v. Secretary of State Katherine Connell
  • 1994 – Mageau v. Schiedler (Town Council)
In 1989, Mageau sued Industrial Products and Engineering in a contract dispute.

And as the proverb goes, “as ye sue, so shall ye be sued,” Mageau has been on the receiving end of lawsuits.

In 1981, he was sued in separate lawsuits for libel and slander by Patricia Quigley and Charles Jacques.

In 1995, he and the Independent Petroleum Dealers Association which he represented were sued by Andy Camputaro, DBA, the Double R Rodeo.

In 1992, Umberto Capuano won a civil judgment against Mageau for $628.
In 1993, Medical Billing Services won a civil judgment against Mageau for $369.
In 1996, the State of Rhode Island, through the RI Depositors Economic Protection Corporation, won a civil judgment against Mageau for $8,708.

Then came his Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 1996.

That was the last of civil actions by or against Mageau until now. Mageau was arrested for assault in 2004 and pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge, and again in 2008 for his scuffle with Cliff Vanover that leads us to his demand for $20,000.

I’ve reported earlier that the policy of “indemnification” provides protection for public officials in the performance of their duty. It would be very difficult to expect anyone to serve in public office without it, since lawsuits are a normal part of doing business these days.

In Mageau’s case, there is the question of whether his fight with Cliff Vanover was part of his public duties. But more damning than that is the following signed statement by Mageau which he filed with the court when he settled the criminal charges against him.

Clearly, this document will be one of the first items on the town’s agenda when it argues for a dismissal of Mageau’s lawsuit.