Buffalo LODD Suits Settle for $4.1 Million

It appears that a settlement has been reached in two separate lawsuits arising out of the LODDs of two Buffalo firefighters in 2009.

Lt. Charles W. “Chip” McCarthy, 45, and FF Jonathan S. Croom, 34, were killed on August 24, 2009 in the basement of a commercial building. Their families filed wrongful death lawsuits against the city of Buffalo, Mayor Byron W. Brown, former Fire Commissioner Michael S. Lombardo and the owners of the Genesee Street deli-warehouse.

Here are the links to the prior posts about the fire and the suits: October 17, 2010 and November 23, 2010.

The settlement calls for payments to the families of both firefighters totaling $4.1 million and health insurance coverage for FF Croom’s minor children. Lt. McCarthy’s children are adults. The agreement also calls for safety changes in the Buffalo Fire Department.

Attorney Thomas H. Burton, a former police officer who represents the McCarthy family, was quoted by The Buffalo News as saying: “Wrongful-death lawsuits are traditionally about money damages for surviving family members. Here, we went further and insisted on multiple safety procedures for firefighters in the future.”

Safety changes include:

  • Complying with the “two in, two out rule”
  • Assigning an accountability officer at “serious fires”
  • Improved radios, SCBAs and TICs

The settlement does not affect the suits pending against the building owners.

More on the story.

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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