Municipal Liability

St. Louis Settles Promotion Discrimination Suit

A lawsuit filed by 140 black St. Louis firefighters challenging the promotional test for captain and battalion chief has been settled with a comprehensive agreement to overhaul the promotional process. The suit was filed in state court by the 140 named firefighters and the Firefighters Institute for Racial Equality alleging that the 2013 promotional process was racially discriminatory.

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Chiefs, Overtime and Extra Compensation

Today’s burning question: We are losing senior instructors from our fire academy because they are being promoted to Battalion Chiefs (or higher), at which point we cannot compensate them to teach on their days off… not even straight time. I am told this is because they are exempt under the FLSA but cannot find any legal clarification that explains what is going on. Why can’t we at least pay these officers straight time to come back and teach on their days off?

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Deleting Derogatory Facebook Postings

Today’s burning question: Can I block someone from posting on our FD Facebook page, or at least hide the comments from public view, because they have been posting derogatory comments ? Answer: yes and no. Government cannot censor members of the public. Government censorship violates the 1st Amendment.

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Washington Fire Department Settles Fatal Accident Suit

The North Kitsap Fire & Rescue has agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit arising out of a 2014 accident between an engine and a motor scooter. Jason Foster was killed on July 4, 2014 following a collision between his motor scooter and an engine. Foster’s family filed suit against NKFR.

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DCFEMS Dismissed from L’Enfant Plaza Suit

A US District Court judge today dismissed the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department from the mass tort suit involving the L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident. The incident occurred in 2015 when an electrical problem caused power cables to begin emitting large quantities of smoke inside a metro tunnel.

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Twice Fired New Mexico Firefighter Sues County

A former Albuquerque firefighter who was fired for hanging up on a frantic 911 caller in 2015 because the caller swore at him, is filing suit against the Bernalillo County Fire Department who hired and then abruptly fired him. Matthew Sanchez was fired by the Albuquerque Fire Department shortly after the shooting death of 17 year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver.

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7th Circuit Rules on Compensation for Off-Duty Use Of Smartphones

In a long awaited decision the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Chicago in a case where police officers sought compensation for the off-duty use of their smartphones. Sergeant Jeffery Allen claimed he and his fellow officers in the Bureau of Organized Crime were required to use their smartphones to communicate while off-duty, but were not compensated for their time.

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Stamford Settles Second Suit Over 2011 Christmas Fatal Fire for $1.35 Million

The Stamford Advocate is reporting that the second of three lawsuits involving the City of Stamford over the fire on Christmas morning 2011 that killed five family members, has been settled for $1.35 million. The fire killed Lily Badger, 9, and her twin sisters, Sarah and Grace, 7, along with their grandparents, Lomer Johnson, 71, and Pauline Johnson, 69.

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Florida Firefighter Files FMLA Suit

A Florida firefighter who was terminated last year is claiming the fire department violated the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Sergio Valdes was fired by the Greater Naples Fire Rescue on December 28, 2016, the same day he returned from a work related injury.

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What is Our Biggest Liability?

What is the biggest liability facing the fire service? Yesterday’s post was about a subrogation lawsuit filed by an insurance carrier against a fire department over a rekindle that destroyed a home. The insurer is seeking $640,000 in damages. Are cases like this our biggest liability?

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7th Circuit Reinstates Chicago Firefighter’s Discrimination Suit

A lawsuit that accuses a Chicago Fire Department lieutenant and captain of discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation has been reinstated by the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The suit was filed by former firefighter Roberto Alamo against Lieutenant Charlie Bliss, Captain Patrick Stefan and the City of Chicago.

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Houston Fire Chief Goes On Newsmakers To Discuss Recent Suit

Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena went on Newsmakers to discuss the challenges the department faces including a suit by the firefighter’s union and a recent audit of the department’s inspection program. The suit filed last week by the union accuses the city administration of refusing to bargain in good faith.

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