Mass Deputy Chief Sues Town and Fire Chief

A Massachusetts deputy chief has filed suit against a town, its fire chief and the entire board of selectmen claiming they retaliated against him after he brought to light problems with the oversight of EMS drugs and refused to lie for the chief.

Deputy Chief Kyle Miltimore filed suit last week in Hampshire County Superior Court naming the Town of Southampton, Fire Chief John C. Workman, Shannon Cutler, Charles Kaniecki, James Labrie, John Martin, and Jacqueline Sears.

Chief Miltimore claims his difficulties began in 2015 after Chief Workman asked him to prepare a witness statement about a physical altercation the chief got in with another member. Chief Miltimore declined because he did not witness the incident. The suit alleges Chief Workman tried to pressure him saying “You are a deputy chief; you have to have my back.”

Chief Miltimore claims that thereafter, Chief Workman became hostile, aggressive, and threatened his employment. In April, 2015 Chief Miltimore alerted town officials to problems with the expired medications on apparatus, as well as the hostile workplace he was facing.

According to Masslive.com, Chief Miltimore was either placed on administrative leave or took a three month leave of absence in 2015. Later in 2015 the state confirmed Chief Miltimore’s concerns about expired medications and suspended the department’s ambulance service until the medication problem could be rectified. In the aftermath of the ESM suspension, Chief Workman blamed the medication problem in part on Chief Miltimore, because he had stopped coming work in February.

It is unclear from news reports whether Chief Miltimore was fired for cause, or whether he was let go because he abandoned his position (ie. not returning to work). I was unable to obtain a copy of the complaint from Hampshire County Superior Court, so it this juncture there remains a lot of unknowns about exactly what happened and when. It is also not entirely clear what legal theories Chief Miltimore is alleging. Masslive.com states the theories include a violation of the state’s whistleblower act, breach of contract and various civil rights violations.

One thing that is known is that the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office found that the Southampton Board of Selectmen violated the state’s Open Meeting Law when it met in executive session on September 20, 2016 and discussed Chief Miltimore employment. Here is more on that citation. That article provides additional insights into the case that unfortunately conflict with the facts stated in the more current article.

Here is more on the filing of the lawsuit.

UPDATED 4/19/17: Here is the complaint: Miltimore v Southampton

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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