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Big E Sued by Local Business

Big EWEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – Every year you see them: hot tubs and pools lined up at New England’s Fair. But after 28 consecutive years that may change. This comes in the wake of last year’s polarizing casino vote in West Springfield. The Big E has told Ted Hebert, owner of Teddy Bear Pools, who was publicly opposed to a casino in town, that his business is no longer welcome as an exhibitor at the Big E.

Hebert is very active in his community and was very vocal when it came to Hard Rock Casino’s proposal for a casino at the Big E in West Springfield.

“Ted Hebert, who I indicated is president of Teddy Bear pools, is a resident of West Springfield and actively campaigned against a casino being situated in West Springfield,” explained Paul Rothschild, Hebert’s attorney.

Rothschild said that decision to publicly oppose the Hard Rock proposal was not popular with Eugene Cassidy, the President and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition.

According to Rothschild, Cassidy threatened Hebert, “said you’re a member of the team, you shouldn’t do it.  I have to ask you not to oppose the casino.  And basically indicated that if you do that your company is going to be excluded from being an exhibitor at the Big E.”

While Rothschild said many of those threats were made verbally, he said there were several instances where those same threats were made via text messages.

Each year the Big E exhibitors are sent a letter encouraging them to sign up for the following year’s fair. For 28 years Ted Hebert received such a letter at the beginning of December. This year he received nothing.

They filed a lawsuit Monday stating that his civil rights were interfered with by threats, intimidation or coercion.

“It’s obvious that the public is going to say what happened to Teddy Bear Pools?  Are they out of business?  Have they suffered financial losses?  Why are they not there?  And that could erode their business by itself,” said Rothschild

According to Rothschild, Mr. Hebert tried to mend fences with the Big E to continue their longstanding relationship. When that didn’t work, he said Hebert decided he had no other option than to file suit.

In the suit Mr. Hebert is seeing reinstatement as an exhibitor at the Big E as well as damages. If all is resolved before this year’s fair those damages will be minimal, possibly just encompassing his attorney’s fees. However, if the fair passes without the issue being resolved, those damages could sky-rocket to include loss of potential sales.

We reached out to the Big E for comment on the suit and they provided us with the following statement from Eugene Cassidy.

“Eastern States Exposition learned of a lawsuit filed by Ted Hebert from the media who received a press release announcing the lawsuit.  We have received no official notification of this action.  Mrs. Cassidy and I were with Mr. and Mrs. Hebert on Saturday evening, March 22, at a function for the West Springfield St. Patrick’s Committee at the Coliseum and no mention was made of any legal action.”

A tentative superior court hearing has been set for next week.

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WGGB encourages readers to share their thoughts and engage in healthy dialogue about the issues. Comments containing personal attacks, profanity, offensive language or advertising will be removed. Please use the report comment function for any posts you feel should be reviewed. Thank you.
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