Fired Palm Beach Firefighter Claims Malicious Prosecution and Retaliation

Former Palm Beach Firefighter Jeremy DeRosa is suing the Town of Palm Beach, a fire department assistant chief, and the town’s risk manager for unspecified damages following what can only be described as roller coaster of events spanning the last four years.

DeRosa was terminated in January of 2014 after being arrested and charged with workers compensation fraud following an ankle injury. The criminal case ended in January of 2016 when Judge John Kastrenakes dismissed all  charges against DeRosa. According to the Palm Beach Daily News, Judge Kastrenakes found the state failed to produce sufficient evidence to support a fraud claim, concluding “this is not even in the same ballpark.”

According to DeRosa, he became the target of Assistant Chief Brodie Atwater back in 2012 when he vocally criticized cuts to firefighter benefits that were not being imposed on chief officers. Thereafter, Chief Atwater allegedly singled out DeRosa for special scrutiny including during drug/alcohol testing. DeRosa ending up filing an HR complaint against Chief Atwater after he directly observed DeRosa’s providing of a urine sample. DeRosa contends Chief Atwater was responsible in part for the workers comp fraud charges being brought against him.

The civil suit was filed on September 29, 2016 in Palm Beach Circuit Court alleging retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim, malicious prosecution, negligent infliction of emotional distress, civil rights violations, and false arrest/imprisonment. More on the story.

The case was removed to US District Court in October by the town’s attorneys. Here is a copy of the original complaint: palm-beach-ff-complaint

Bill Maccarone

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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