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.

California City Settles Sexual Harassment Suit for $348k

The City of St. Helena has agreed to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit with a former fire department employee who claims that male firefighters subjected her to a hostile work environment. Alison Mattioli filed suit last year claiming that members of the all-male fire department subjected her to “hostile, demeaning and disrespectful conduct.”

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Federal Court Refuses To Allow Revenge Porn Victim To Remain Anonymous

The US District Court for the District of Nevada handed down a ruling this week denying the request of the female firefighter at the center of a revenge porn scandal in the Las Vegas Fire Department, to proceed anonymously. The firefighter, who up to this point has been referred to as Jane Doe, filed suit in March alleging sexual harassment.

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San Diego Facing Class Action Suit Over Asbestos Exposure

Twenty-one employees of the City of San Diego, including several employees of the San Diego Fire Department, having filed a class action lawsuit claiming the city exposed them to asbestos and then misrepresented the danger. The lawsuit filed last week in San Diego County Superior Court claims the city was aware of the presence of asbestos in a 19-story building referred to as the Executive Complex.

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NY Firefighter Convicted of Arson

A volunteer firefighter in New York has been convicted of burning two buildings that stood between his house and the house of his then-girl friend, so he could have a clear line of sight. Michael Watzka Jr. was convicted last week by an Ulster County jury. He was a member of the East Kingston Fire Department.

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NJ Firefighter Injured By Apparatus Following Celebration Files Suit

A New Jersey firefighter who was injured last year in a mishap with an engine following an out of town celebration, is suing the department and several firefighters. Brian Smith was part of a three-person crew from the South Hackensack Fire Department that took an engine to attend a “wet down” party at the Fair Lawn Fire Department on June 23, 2018.

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Pennsylvania VFD Treasurer Charged With Embezzlement

The treasurer of a Pennsylvania fire department is facing charges that he embezzled $93,000 from the department. According to The Bradford Era, Scott Andrew Luce is facing a total of 128 charges for stealing money from the Genesee Fire and Ambulance Department.

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At Will, Due Process and Just Cause

Today’s burning question: Does Loudermill apply in states that are “at-will”? Our city administrator said a prominent HR attorney told her that due process, progressive discipline, and a Loudermill hearing process does not have to be followed in our state because we are “at-will”. Answer: There is alot of confusion over this issue and well-intentioned attorneys who oversimplify the complexity of the law are not necessarily helpful.

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Fire Victims’ Family Seeks $2.2 Billion from New York City

An attorney representing the daughter of a woman who died in a fire along with her five children, has filed a claim with the city of New York for $2.2 billion alleging the city did not do enough to protect them as residents in a public housing project. Attorney Evan Oshan filed the claim on behalf of Raven Reyes, the daughter of Andrea Pollidore.

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Chicago Fire Prevails in Discrimination Suit

The Chicago Fire Department has prevailed in a lawsuit filed by a Hispanic firefighter who claimed he was the victim of a hostile workplace. Last Friday, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted a summary judgment to the city in a suit brought by Firefighter Ricardo Gomez

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Zipper Clauses, Past Practices, and Discipline Prior to Exhaustion of Appeals

The Court of Appeals of Ohio, First Appellate District has upheld a grievance arbitration decision that found that a fire department breached a collective bargaining agreement when it imposed discipline before an employee’s administrative appeals have been exhausted. The case involved William Tillett, who was a lieutenant with the Anderson Township Fire Department.

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