First Arriving Network
First Arriving Network

How much does a lawsuit cost? Ask Volusia County

A headline from Florida this week read: $1M Spent To Battle Firefighter In Court. Fire lieutenant Kurt Vroman was terminated by the Volusia County Fire Department for lying…. about getting food during his workshift. Really? About getting food?

Vroman alleged the termination was retaliation for complaints he made about safety related matters, as well as a no-confidence vote he spearheaded against Fire Chief Jim Tauber in 2004. Vroman was union vice president at the time. In response to the termination he filed a law suit.

In 2008, a Federal court jury awarded Vroman $10,000 in damages and ordered him reinstated. Rather than pay, the county chose to appeal. In February, 2010, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Vroman’s favor, but the county refused to hire him back. The case was just settled last week with the county payout equaling:  $44,700 to Vroman, and $278,300 to Vroman’s attorneys. The county also spent $611,500 on its own legal fees for a grand total of $934,000.

This link has video coverage of the settlement.

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About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.