NJ Lieutenant Suing Fire Chief For Harassment and Defamation

A New Jersey lieutenant is suing his fire chief and fire department claiming he was harassed, defamed, and accused of committing a criminal offense while recuperating from a spinal cord injury.

Ronald Laube is a lieutenant in the Clifton Fire Department. He suffered a spinal cord injury in 2013. Laube claims that Fire Chief Vincent Colavitti ordered him to work modified duty against his neurosurgeon’s orders, and in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. He also claims Chief Colavitti accused him of driving a snow plow while he was on sick leave. According to the complaint:

Although Colavitti knew full well the falsity of his statement, he made same in furtherance of an attempt to accuse the plaintiff of purposefully committing a crime, which is defamatory.”

Laube claims that Chief Colavitti has been harassing him for years even prior to his injury. The suit was filed in Passaic Vicinage of the Superior Court last week, and alleges he informed the city of Chief Colavitti’s conduct but the city has failed to take any actions.

More on the story.

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.
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