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A six-year-old battle between a school administrator and a crew of physical education teachers at Fort Hamilton High School in what could be best described as a poolside political struggle is still alive and well, thanks to a civil suit that apparently will not end.
According to recently released court documents, embattled former Assistant Principal Thomas Greene lost a lawsuit in February against physical education teachers Marie Neto, Susan Russo and Georgianna Rafaniello for battery.
Adding insult to injury, a jury determined that Greene had to pay Neto and Russo $10,000 each for injuries he allegedly inflicted on them during the fight, although he claims he was the one victimized.
Claiming that the verdict could not be substantiated by the evidence, and that two jurors had been empanelled against their will, Albert Guadelli, Greene’s attorney, appealed, asking that the verdict be set aside and a new trial be scheduled.
In a court decision filed on October 3, Judge James Starkey denied the appeal, although he lowered Greene’s payouts from $10,000 to $1,000.
But, despite the recent turn of events, Greene is still demanding a new trial.
According to court documents, Neto and the two other teachers allegedly attacked Greene after they barred him from an office by the pool at Fort Hamilton High School, 8301 Shore Road.
The fight was sparked by an ongoing dispute about just when Greene could use the pool, which he helped acquire for the school and is named in his honor.
A school policy regarding his use of the pool had been handed down some time earlier, declaring that Neto and her fellow physical education teachers had domain over the pool until 5:30 p.m. After 5:30 p.m., Greene was allowed to train a community swim team at the pool, officials were told.
When the attack occurred, Greene showed up at the pool at 5:15 p.m., claiming that he had to get a first aid kit from an office that was usually locked when his practices began.
At that moment Neto, Russo and Rafaniello were locking up the office, and allegedly refused to let him inside.
Greene, Neto and the other two teachers allegedly began to argue and shove each other.
Things quickly descended down a darker path when Neto allegedly punched Greene in the face. She also threatened to kill him, according to court documents.
Greene reportedly fought back, which sparked a brawl.
In the end, Greene suffered a head wound and two black eyes. He called police, who charged Neto with assault.
Neto, who also sustained bruises, filed assault charges against Greene, who was also taken into custody.
In the weeks and months that followed, the charges against Greene were dropped. Neto was ultimately sentenced to 120 hours community service after being found guilty of attempted assault.
After the charges were dropped, Greene and two other administrators involved in the scuffle were reinstated to Fort Hamilton with a letter of reprimand attached to their record.
Guadelli said that Greene has since retired from the Department of Education.
After the 2003 criminal verdict, Neto was dismissed from the Department of Education.
“Justice was done,” Greene told reporters back then, claiming that he was glad the ordeal was over with.
Yet justice for Greene was fleeting in the civil suit.
“We plan to exhaust all of our appeal remedies and are currently in the process of determining our next step,” Guadelli told this paper as he vowed to appeal.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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