Nevada Firefighter Union Sued By Mayoral Candidate

A Nevada man who ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of the town of Fernley has filed suit against a firefighters’ union that he claims defamed him during the campaign.

Ryan Hanan filed suit in Lyon County Third Judicial District Court last month accusing IAFF Local 4547, North Lyon County Firefighters Association, of defaming him on Facebook by posting false statements about his service as a firefighter with the North Lyon County Fire Protection District.

According to the suit, the association’s Facebook page said Hanan “has NEVER been a firefighter or EMT, paid or volunteer with NLCFPD. In fact he applied to be a volunteer and never completed any training.…” The suit also accuses the union of creating a Facebook page titled  “Vote NO For Ryan Hanan Fernley Mayor”.

According to the Reno Gazette Journal, the complaint stated that “The Union’s publications were knowingly false and published with reckless disregard for their falsity.” Hanan came in last in a three-way race for mayor.

A later article from the Gazette Journal indicated that the union answered the complaint denying most of the allegations but admitted:

  • Hanan was voted into membership with the North Lyon County Fire Protection District as a volunteer member
  • That he was enrolled in a firefighter one class, although he did not complete training or certification
  • That he was issued a pager and turnout gear

The Gazette Journal also quoted an email from Hanan as saying:

  • “It’s completely contrary to their post on Facebook where they said I never attended any trainings and wasn’t a firefighter.”
  • “What district issues a pager to a member who isn’t a firefighter? Lies.”

Hanan has also taken issue with the North Lyon County Fire Protection District, who he accuses of failing to address the misconduct by its firefighters. 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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