Author Archives: 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.

Fired Washington Chief Sues for $1.4 Million

A Washington fire chief who was terminated following a vote of no-confidence by the firefighters’ union, has filed suit claiming breach of contract and violation of his due process rights. Fire Chief David Bathke was fired by the City of Ocean Shores in January

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PA Chief Gets Probation and Restitution for Theft

A former Pennsylvania fire chief has been given 12 months of probation and must make full restitution for stealing $4,359 from his fire department. William “Bubba” Benecke, who served as fire chief for the Sharon Hill Fire Company, has reportedly already made restitution.

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NJ Firefighter Sues Instructor and Fire Academy Over Rape

A county fire academy in New Jersey has been named in a federal lawsuit brought by a female firefighter who claims that an instructor she met while a student, bound, raped and strangled her. The firefighter, identified in the suit only as "A.S.", accuses instructor John Syers, Jr. of perpetrating the rape in September, 2018

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FDNY Prevails in Elevator Rescue Suit Based On Special Duty Rule

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division has upheld the dismissal of the City of New York and the FDNY from a lawsuit filed by a person injured during an elevator emergency in 2014. Daniel Ortiz filed suit claiming he injured his knee when a stalled elevator he was in dropped several feet during rescue efforts

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Texas City Sues Fire Department Over Apparatus Titles

The City of Howardwick, Texas has filed suit against the Howardwick Volunteer Fire Department to prevent the fire department from placing the titles and registrations for its apparatus in the fire department’s name. The suit was filed last week in Donley County District Court.

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LODD Widow Sued For Money Owed On Damaged Bar

There has been an unusual twist in the litigation arising out of the line of duty death of Captain Cory Barr, who was killed in a natural gas explosion in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin last July. Captain Barr’s widow, Abby, is now being sued by Ski and Ski LLC, who sold the Barrs a bar, which was subsequently destroyed in the blast.

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Pennsylvania Junior Program Sexual Assault Case Settled

A lawsuit that alleged a 13-year old girl was sexually assaulted by a fire lieutenant while participating in the department’s junior program has been settled. The family of the victim, who was identified in the pleadings as T.S., filed the suit last year naming Lieutenant Joshua James Ralston and the Trucksville Volunteer Fire Department as defendants.

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Judge Dismisses Washington Fire Department’s FLSA Suit

A pre-emptive lawsuit filed by the Spokane Valley Fire Department in 2017 against IAFF Local 3701 over the issue of overtime for certain chief officers was dismissed today. The unprecedented lawsuit asked the court to determine whether or not battalion chiefs and fire marshals are exempt executives ineligible for overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Families of Two San Antonio Firefighters Sue

The families of two San Antonio firefighters, one of whom died the other who was seriously injured at a fire in 2017, have filed suit against Scott Technologies and the owner of a boxing gym where the fire occurred. Scott Deem was killed and Brad Phipps was seriously injured at a fire in the Spartan Boxing Gym on May 18, 2017.

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Newark Firefighter Loses Appeal of Termination

A Newark firefighter who was terminated in 2016 after falling asleep in a firehouse kitchen, missing a run, and testing positive for drugs and alcohol, has lost his appeal to the Appellate Division of the NJ Superior Court. Antonio Cruz had asked the court to overturn a decision by the NJ Civil Service Commission

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Fired Massachusetts Chief Sues Selectmen Alleging Termination Was Political

A Massachusetts fire chief who simultaneously served as a member of the town’s Board of Selectmen, is now suing the board and the other selectmen over his termination last February. Fire Chief Ernest J. Cardillo, Jr. filed suit last week in US District Court accusing the Town of Stockbridge and the selectmen with violating his civil rights under federal and state law.

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Jury Awards $3.8 Million to Tucson Firefighter Over Nursing Mothers Rights

A federal court jury in Arizona has awarded a Tucson firefighter $3.8 million in damages for the department’s failure to accommodate her needs as a nursing mother. Carrie Clark filed suit in 2014 alleging her fire station did not accommodate her need to express breast milk, and that she was retaliated against once her complaints became known.

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