California Captain Asks for $500k Because He Was Hazed

Here’s today’s burning question: “I’m a fire captain and I was assigned to work at a station in a different fire department as an observer for a day. While I was there the guys played a series of mean pranks on me. Can I sue them?”  

Ask Rialto Fire Department Captain Joshua Gilliam, who filed a claim for $500,000 against the city of Long Beach. On February 10, 2011 he worked at Long Beach Fire Department Station 11 as an observer. He was welcomed with a series of pranks including the venerable:

  • Hot ball of tin foil
  • Water dump (down the station’s sky-light onto him… here in the Northeast it would be a water drop down the pole hole)
  • Fire crackers into the bathroom stall while he was on the throne

According to news reports the claim states that Captain Gilliam suffered “discrimination, harassment, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, emotional distress, battery.”

Here is more on the story. Speaking of more to the story, is there? Anyone know? There always is….

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.
  • How did this guy make it past probie? Even if the crew was way out of line, I cannot see how this is actionable.

  • I’ve been hoping someone from California might be able to shed some light. There has to be more to this!!!!

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