NORTH ATTLEBORO — The board of health is reviewing the draft of a lawsuit before it is filed in Superior Court in its fight to end fluoridation of the town’s water supply.
The board recently received from attorney David Gay the preliminary draft of its complaint against the town for failing to stop fluoridation.
Gay asked the board to report back with any questions or concerns before the lawsuit is filed.
Board Chairman Diane Battistello confirmed that the information has been received from Gay, but added that the board has not yet had a chance to discuss it.
“We still need to proofread what was sent to us and have some discussion about it,” Battistello said.
The board of health previously voted 2-1 to sue the Department of Public Works over its decision to ignore a cease and desist order to stop fluoridation of the town’s water supply.
Battistello and member Susan Shaw voted to issue the cease-and-desist order, and to start the litigation. Board member Donald Bates was opposed to both actions.
Gay was hired after he agreed to represent the board of health at no cost to the town.
While legal matters are usually discussed in executive session, Gay told the board at a recent meeting that all of the facts in the case are already well known.
“The complaint assumes the position that the board of health has the authority to issue the cease-and-desist order of July 29, 2005, and we are asking the judge in the Superior Court to compel the board of public works to obey it,” Gay said.
The Department of Public Works has refused to honor the order on advice of Town Counsel Robert Bliss, who said the final authority rests with the town’s voters, who approved fluoridation in November 2000.
State law does not include a provision for stopping fluoridation once voters have approved it.
However, Gay argues that the board of health has the ultimate authority over health-related matters.
“While the outcome of a legal action can never be guaranteed, we believe that our position is strongly supported by the statutes and case law of the Commonwealth,” Gay wrote in a letter to the board.
Once the lawsuit is filed, Gay said it could take from six to nine months for the court to make a decision, not counting any appeals that might be filed by either side.