Redding Police Department no longer being sued in Valenti case

Other parties still being sued

The Redding Police Department is no longer being sued by the family of a man who died hanging from a noose in a shed outside his Blueberry Hill Road home on April 11, 2016.

The body of the man — Redding resident Peter Valenti — was mistaken for a dummy by the first police officer who found it.

Then, according to another complaint, Redding Police Chief Doug Fuchs refused to allow an emergency medical technician to check on Valenti, saying he was already dead.

Fuchs has been placed on paid leave of absence as the town investigates the claims.

On Friday, Dec. 1, Gayle Sullivan, an attorney for the Valenti family, said that nothing has changed in the case itself.

Since the Redding Police Department is employed by the Town of Redding, the department can’t be sued – only the town, Sullivan said.

“We filed with the town of Redding, the police department and the rest were individuals,” said Sullivan, who is with the firm McEnery Price Messey & Sullivan. “It turns out that the police department is not an officially legal entity that you can sue. The correct legal entity is the town of Redding.”

She added that to simplify the pleadings and the litigations, “we needed to remove unnecessary and improper parties. The police department is not a proper party in the law.”

Sullivan stated that nothing changes with the allegations, the liability, and the responsibility resting with the officers and their employer who, in this case, turns out to be the town of Redding.

She said she would refer to this update in the case not as an error but instead as an “abundance of caution.”

“We have to include entities that we think may be the proper legal party and very often, we are not able to determine with certainty all of the correct legal parties to include in the lawsuit,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said her firm first learned of this matter after recent conversations with the attorney for the town of Redding in the case — James Tallberg – about two weeks ago.

In the amended complaint, there is no mention of the police department as a defendant.

Valenti case transferred out of Danbury

Sullivan said that McEnery Price Messey & Sullivan filed a motion on Monday, Nov. 6, to apply to get the Valenti case transferred out of Danbury.

“We made a motion to put it on a complex litigation docket, which is a special docket for complicated cases. In this docket, you can benefit from a single judge having oversight to the process,” she said.

In a complex litigation docket, there are “many defense councils and lots of experts” working on the case, according to Sullivan.

Sullivan added that both defendants in the Valenti case  — Tallberg and James Williams, of Williams, Walsh & O’Connor, who represents Fuchs — objected to this motion.

“They didn’t want to be put on this. They want to stay close to home,” she said. “But we won that one. We were granted this order, which was made on Wednesday, Nov 22.”

Sullivan said her firm made this motion because this is a very complicated case, “and when you have a complicated case that involves a lot of defendants, our challenge is to move forward with the case and keep moving in the litigation so our clients can have some resolution.”

She said that going forward, there will be one judge overseeing it so there is less likely to be a delay.

“On the regular docket, you can see any judge,” she added. “The one judge knows the case, knows the lawyers and any time you have an issue, it’s that judge’s responsibility to oversee the litigation.”

In this case, the judge is Terrence Zemetis, Sullivan said.

She explained that her firm has a conference with the lawyers for the Valenti family and the lawyers for the defendant on Friday, Dec. 15, in Waterbury.

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  • Alex Gray

    If the defendant, Town Of Redding in this case, loses, Redding taxpayers will be liable perhaps millions for what Fuchs presumably did. He may go home and Redding taxpayers may be let with a huge bill.

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