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New London agrees to new $87,500 settlement for former employee

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New London — The city and its insurance carrier have agreed to pay former city employee Cynthia Olivero $87,500 to finalize her claims over an injury she sustained in a fall down a deteriorating flight of concrete stairs outside New London police headquarters in 2015.

It is Olivero’s third settlement with the city and comes less than a year after the City Council authorized an unrelated $50,000 settlement that led her to drop pending complaints and threats of a lawsuit related in part to the elimination of her position at the New London Senior Center in 2019. The city denied her claims as part of the settlement. That settlement, however, was the source of another complaint by the city’s Public Works union, which successfully argued the agreement was reached without union involvement.

Olivero, whose husband is a former New London police officer, started with the city in 2008, first working as a clerk in the police department’s records division and later as a secretary under former Chief Margaret Ackley. After shifting to a job at the senior center in 2017, her position was eliminated in 2019.

Cynthia’s latest claim against the city arose from a May 18, 2015, fall down a flight of concrete stairs outside the police department in which she injured her back, head and leg. The stairs have since been rebuilt.

“I tripped over stairs which were heavily used while in disrepair for years,” Olivero said. “I sustained spinal fractures, underwent two surgeries, including one with hardware installed. I’ll live the rest of my life with pain and numbness. That said, I am relieved to put the litigation behind me. I look forward to moving on with my life.”

Olivero, represented by attorney Michael Petela, had filed her claim related to the fall with the city and its insurance carrier, Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, or CIRMA. The agreement, called a “full and final stipulation” was signed on April 21 and releases the city of further workers' compensation claims related to the fall.

In 2017, the city’s former risk manager had estimated city expenses related to the fall had at that time topped $200,000 for related medical, disability, legal and general expenses. The city previously had questioned the extent of Olivero’s injuries and contended she had been paid all benefits she was entitled to, according to the settlement agreement. The city’s agreement was a result of the city’s desire “to amicably adjust and settle this compensation claim once and for all time,” the agreement reads.

City officials were not immediately available to comment on the settlement, which is expected to be paid by CIRMA. The agreement stipulates that “it is not to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of the City of New London or CIRMA .... by whom liability is expressly denied.”

Olivero has clashed with city and police officials in the past and filed multiple complaints with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. At one point, she called her experience at the police department “traumatizing,” having been the target of several internal investigations, including one in 2015 after police found files in her desk that department investigators argued should not have been there. Her fall occurred while that investigation was pending.

Olivero obtained a $54,000 settlement in 2015 related in part to claims against the city that they had failed to properly accommodate her medical condition — multiple sclerosis — at work. The city denied responsibility in that settlement agreement.

g.smith@theday.com

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