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Golodner v. City of New London

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 25, 2016

DANIEL GOLODNER, SECURITY TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS, LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF NEW LONDON, MARTIN BERLINER, ROBERT MYERS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiff Daniel Golodner is the majority owner of co-plaintiff Security Technology Systems, LLC (STS), a security alarm company. For about seven years from 2002 to 2009, plaintiffs provided services for the City of New London, Connecticut, involving the installation, maintenance, and monitoring of alarms at city-owned buildings. In 2009, however, the City initiated a competitive bidding process to select a vendor for the services that had been furnished by plaintiffs, and the City ended up awarding a contract for these services to another company.

Plaintiffs have filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. They claim that they lost the City’s business because defendants-the City as well as its former city manager (Martin Berliner) and director of public works (Robert Myers)-intended to retaliate against plaintiff Golodner for having previously filed a lawsuit that complained about police practices in the City of New London. Following a bench trial and consideration of all the evidence, I conclude that plaintiffs have not proved that they lost the City’s business because of retaliation in violation of the First Amendment.

Findings of Facts

The Court heard trial testimony over a period of two days on January 11 and 12, 2016, from the following individuals:

• Daniel Golodner, plaintiff (former alarm services provider for the City)
• Martin Berliner, defendant (former City Manager for the City of New London)
• Robert Myers, defendant (former Director of Public Works for the City of New London)
• Janita Hamel (representative from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection)
• Timothy Ackert (co-owner with Daniel Golodner of co-plaintiff STS, LLC)

Based on the testimony, documentary exhibits, and stipulated facts, I make the following findings of fact.

Plaintiff Daniel Golodner is 53-year-old Connecticut electrician who learned his trade while serving in the United States Navy. After serving in the Navy, Golodner went into the electrician business and acquired a L-6 low-voltage alarm journeyperson license. In 2001, Golodner formed a company-co-plaintiff STS-by means of a purchase of the assets and business of a predecessor electrical-services company. During the relevant times in this case, Golodner owned 95% of STS, and he had a business partner-Timothy Ackert, another electrician with a more advanced electrician license than plaintiff-who owned the remaining 5% of STS. Golodner was managing member of STS, and he conducted the vast majority of the company’s day-to-day operations.

According to Golodner, when he purchased the business from the predecessor company, one of the predecessor’s active accounts involved the servicing of alarm systems at various buildings owned by the City of New London. Golodner soon learned, however, that the City was planning to give the service contract to another company, and he complained and insisted that the City have a bidding process. STS then won the bidding process and eventually entered into a three-year written contract with the City from 2002 to 2005 for the upgrade, monitoring, and maintenance of security alarms at several City buildings. See Def. Exh. C (contract); Doc. #68 at 15 (stipulation of facts). Under the terms of this contract and subsequent riders for additional services, STS provided 24-hour monitoring and maintenance of ten different alarm systems and three fire alarm systems at a cost to the City of $4, 752 per year. Doc. #68 at 16 (stipulation).

The written contract between STS and the City expired in April 2005. According to Golodner, he wanted to renew the written contract, but the official who was formerly the Director of Public Works put him off and assured him that STS was ''our company'' and that ''we don’t need a new contract.'' Doc. #68 at 17 (stipulation). Consequently, STS continued after April 2005 to perform and bill the City for its alarm-related services but without a formal written contract. During ...


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