Parents of Child Killed in Scottsdale Fire Station Accident File $9 Million Claim

The parents of a 16-month-old child who died in a Scottsdale fire station earlier this year, have filed a $9 million claim with the city alleging wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The claim is a required precursor to a lawsuit.

Joseph ‘Joey’ Reiss was killed on February 3, 2018 when he was crushed by a sideways-folding apparatus bay door. His parents, Dan and Courtney Reiss, claim the doors posed an unreasonably dangerous condition which the city failed to adequately remedy and/or warn them about.

At the time, Courtney along with three other mothers and seven children, were touring the station where Joey’s uncle worked as a firefighter. According to the claim:

  • One of the two fire trucks left the station, from Bay 1, taking some of the mothers and children on a quick ride through the park.
  • The fire truck’s departure silently triggered a sensor pre-programed to automatically close the heavy, four-fold fire station door 3 minutes and 47 seconds later.
  • The door had previously been open for quite some time, while the truck was in that stall.
  • At the same time, other fire personnel and visitors were moving about the station. Captain MD Clark was giving a tour to another family, showing them the truck on which Courtney had been photographing Joey just moments before.
  • By all appearances, it was business and life as usual. But the timer on the automated door-closer was silently counting down Joey’s last 3 minutes and 47 seconds as a happy, healthy little boy.
  • With no warning whatsoever, the doors at Bay 1 quickly and violently slammed shut on Joey.
  • Courtney in disbelief stood by helplessly; it happened so fast she had no time to react and save her little boy.
  • She tried to pull the doors apart, but wasn’t strong enough. When the doors finally parted, with help from others, Joey crumpled at her feet, bleeding from the ears and making no sounds at all. His little head was crushed so forcefully that blood flowed from his ears, leaving a puddle of blood on the floor.
  • Despite resuscitation efforts at the station and the hospital, Joey was never revived.
  • He suffered multiple skull fractures and a massive brain injury.

Here is a copy of the claim: Reiss-Notice-of-Claim-Letter-to-City-of-Scottsdale

Here is a report submitted by the Reiss’s expert: Reiss-Fire-Station-Door-Incident-Report

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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