NJ City Settles Suit Over Retaliation

The City of Paterson, New Jersey has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a fire captain who claims he was retaliated by a former fire chief. Captain Salvatore Brigati filed suit in 2017 claiming Fire Chief Michael Postorino retaliated against him because he refused to sell the chief property at a discounted price or work for the chief’s side business.

Captain Brigati claims that the chief targeted him for harassment and mistreatment, including assigning him to relatively slow company, Engine 2, at the Union Avenue station. The Union Avenue station was so undesirable that it was nicknamed the “punishment house.” The incidents triggering the harassment occurred in 2004 and 2008.

Chief Postorino retired in 2017, right around the time the lawsuit was filed. The city sought to have the case dismissed alleging that because Captain Brigati suffered no economic losses, there was no basis for liability. This week, the city council voted to settle the suit for $80,000. The settlement amount includes Captain Brigati’s attorneys fees.

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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