The Ricci Case Grinds On in New Haven

A week after 14 members of the “New Haven 20” received their long awaited promotions, it was back to court for the parties. In a document titled “Plaintiff’s Brief on Post-Remand Liability Issues and Elements of Title VII Damages”,  attorney Karen Lee Torre outlined what the 20 plaintiffs will seek when a jury is empanelled to consider damages. Specifically, the purpose of the brief was to address:  “(a) the scope and nature of damages to which Plaintiffs are entitled under Title VII, and (b) whether any counts remain for liability adjudication.”

Four members of the group who were not among the initial 14 promoted, argue that they should be  promoted.

Lieutenants Edward Riordan, Thomas Michaels and John Vendetto and Firefighter Sean Patton, passed the 2003 promotional exams for their respective ranks, and  “believe they would have been promoted during the life of the eligibility lists had the city certified them in 2004”. They “reserved the right to contest the city’s position that they would not have been promoted.”

The brief outlines the damages sought by the New Haven 20, including back pay (consisting of “lost salary, anticipated raises, pension rights, seniority credit, retirement, and all other benefits”); compensation for the loss of the opportunity to compete for subsequent promotions to higher ranks (called “career stall”); damages for the “severe mental anguish and emotional distress” and “the humiliation and economic hardship of prolonged career stagnancy in a rancorous atmosphere fostered by raw racial divides”; and attorneys fees and costs.

The next step is in the long saga is for the city to respond to the Plaintiffs’ brief.

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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