Wrongful Death Suit Against Firefighter Settled for $1.57 Million

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against an Ohio firefighter and fire district has been settled for $1.57 million.

Firefighter Timothy Johnson, now 43, of the Portage Fire District, was responding to a mutual aid structure fire on July 16, 2010 when his personally owned vehicle collided with a car driven by Olivia Duty. Duty’s boyfriend, Ian Huffman, 24, was killed in the crash. Police estimated Johnson’s speed at between 96-98 miles per hour just before the collision.

Johnson was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide  and aggravated vehicular assault, and ended up pleading guilty to one count negligent vehicular homicide and attempted negligent homicide. He was sentenced to 9 months in prison and his driver’s license was suspended for three years.

Parents of Ian Huffman,  John and Maureen Huffman,  and Olivia Duty,  filed the wrongful-death and personal-injury lawsuit against Johnson and the Portage Fire District. It was settled for $1.57 million. Huffman’s parents said that the compensation would in no way make up for the loss of their child but would help them on the road toward closure.

They also said they hoped the lawsuit would send a message to other firefighters about the need to operate their vehicles with due regard for the safety of the public. The ToledoBlade.com quoted Mr. Huffman as saying: “any time a lawsuit like this is brought, it helps educate the firemen and hopefully they learn to be more careful in the future…They have an obligation to operate their vehicles with due regard for the safety of the public. It does not give them the right to speed, especially at insanely excessive speeds.”

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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