Toledo Sued For Wrongful Death Of Man Struck By Hose

The estate of a man killed by a hose dragging behind a Toledo Fire Department engine company in 2014, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

Lonnie Holmes, 59, was struck by an attack hoseline being dragged behind a responding engine company on October 18, 2014. Holmes was riding his bike at the time he was struck. The hose also damaged several cars. Holmes died from his injuries several days later.

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The suit filed in Lucas County Court of Common Pleas on April 1, 2016 claims that a safety device intended to prevent the hose from coming loose had been “intentionally removed”.

Here are the specific allegations:

  • On and before October 18, 2014, the City of Toledo was the registered owner of a 2009 Peterbilt Fire Truck bearing Vehicle Identification No. 2NRHN8X69M770E43.
  • That based upon information and belief, at the time of manufacture and delivery to Defendant City, of Toledo, said Fire Truck contained a safety device to secure the fire hoses and nozzles while the vehicle was in operation.
  • That based upon information and belief, at some time before October 18, 2014, Defendant City of Toledo, acting by and through its employees, agents, and/ or servants, intentionally removed said safety device and did not replace it with a similar or sufficient alternative safety device.
  • That despite the absence of the safety device, Defendant City of Toledo, acting by and through its employees, agents, and/or servants, intentionally permitted the Fire Truck to remain in service.
  • That on October 18, 2014, said Fire Truck was responding to an emergency call.
  • While in route to the emergency, a hose and nozzle came free from the Fire Truck, and proceeded to whip and bounce around behind the truck on Hawley Street in the City of Toledo.
  • That on October 18, 2014, Plaintiffs decedent, Lonnie Holmes, was struck by the hose and/ or nozzle whipping around behind said Fire Truck on Hawley Street near the intersection of Hawley and Indiana, causing him injury and ultimately leading to his death on October 21, 2014.
  • That Defendant City of Toledo’s intentional decision to remove the aforesaid safety device was made with malicious purpose, in bad faith and/ or in a wanton or reckless manner.
  • That Defendant City of Toledo’s intentional decision to keep said Fire Truck in service without a proper safety device to secure the hose and nozzle was made with malicious purpose, in bad faith and/or in a wanton or reckless manner.
  • That the operation of said Fire Truck on October 18, 2014 constitutes negligence, recklessness, and/or willful and wanton misconduct.
  • That Defendant City of Toledo is vicariously liable for the actions and/ or omissions of its employees, agents and/or servants.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Holmes v Toledo

I happened to read a number of uninformed comments in social media regarding this case. A hose dislodging from a moving engine company is NOT a highly unusual occurrence. We have seen these kinds of accidents leading to deaths and serious injuries before. Here is a link to my previous stories about the problem in Revere, Massachusetts; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. There are also plenty of near miss incidents documented on the National Near Miss Database.

Following the Coraopolis incident that killed a young girl, the NFPA mandated restraint devices on all new apparatus.

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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