RI Firefighter Sues Council President and Town Over Outrageous Remarks

A firefighter who the president of the town council called a “sociopath” and threatened to “cut off his balls and feed them to his god-damn dog” is now suiting the town and the council president who made the remarks.

David Gorman filed suit against the Town of East Greenwich and Town Council President Sue Cienki for defamation, invasion of privacy/false light, and sexual harassment, a violation of the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act of 1990. The suit was filed last week in Kent County Superior Court.

The controversy began on June 12, 2017, when Cienki met with firefighter Union President William Perry, former Town Manager Tom Coyle, Town Councilman Sean Todd, firefighter Michael Jones and Fire Chief Russell McGillivray. Cienki called Gorman a “sociopath” and said “I will cut off his balls and feed them to his god damn dog.” Cienki similarly threatened to do the same to Perry if he caused any problems.

Following the meeting Perry complained about being harassed by Cienki. Thereafter Perry’s wife Laurie and brother James were fired by the town. Town Manager Coyle, the former town police chief, was forced out. East Greenwich Firefighters Local 3328 have filed suit challenging the firing of Perry’s brother from the fire department. The suit characterizes the firing as retaliation. More on that story. The town is also facing a number of other suits challenging its recent actions.

In the Gorman case, Cienki is being sued personally and in her capacity as town council president. The suit also names the town’s finance director, Linda Dykema, in her capacity as the party who controls town’s finances.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Gorman v East Greenwich

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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