Judge Rules Governor, HHS Chief Lacked Authority to Fire Soldiers’ Home Superintendent

HOLYOKE — Gov. Charlie Baker and his state Health and Human Services (HHS) chief lacked the authority to fire Bennett Walsh as superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, where at least 76 elderly veterans have died of COVID-19 amid the pandemic, a judge ruled Monday, according to the Boston Globe.

Hampden Superior Court Judge John Ferrara wrote in his 12-page ruling that the June firing of Walsh — in the form of a letter signed by HHS Secretary Marylou Sudders and endorsed by Baker — was “invalid and is void.”

Ferrara wrote that the home’s board of trustees, not Sudders, was the “proper vehicle” by which Baker could have sought the firing of Walsh, who sued the state in April after he was put on leave. Ferrera added that, had Baker asked the board to fire the superintendent, “there was no reason to believe that the board would not have complied.”

It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday if Walsh will seek reinstatement in light of the ruling, the Globe added.

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