NJ Fire Inspector Awarded $1 Million

A New Jersey fire inspector who claims he was harassed because he cited various businesses with close ties to the mayor for fire code violations, has been awarded over $1 million by a Superior Court jury.

The city of Elizabeth was ordered to pay Fred Bonda $750,000 in lost wages and $350,000 for emotional distress last week, and potentially could be on the hook to pay even more as punitive damages.

Bonda claims that after he cited a construction site at Trinitas Hospital and various buildings owned by friends of Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, he became the target of his supervisors, who berated him and took away his computer and cellphone. The harassment was so severe that Bond claims he had to take medical leave in February, 2014.

The City is vowing to appear the verdict, claiming Bonda was simply upset he did not receive a promotion. A hearing on the punitive damages is set for March 27. 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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