SF Firefighter Claims Defamation and Discrimination in Asiana Crash Case

The already bizarre case of the Asiana Airlines crash just took a major detour toward the extreme bizarre with word that a San Francisco firefighter has filed a claim against the city alleging that she has been defamed and discriminated against on account of her race and the fact she is a lesbian.

Firefighter Elyse Duckett claims the department publicly identified her as the driver of the vehicle that ran over and killed 16 year old Ye Meng Yuan, subjecting her to great media attention and ridicule. See this story for example. In truth Duckett’s vehicle appears to have been the second vehicle to strike Yuan.

Duckett, a 25-year veteran, claims the department knew the facts when it released the misinformation to the media, but deliberately chose her to blame because she is African American and lesbian. Her claim alleges the department’s intent in blaming her was “to protect the firefighter who was actually responsible for the death of Ye Meng Yuan.”

Attorney Eduardo Roy, who represents Duckett, said fire officials not only engaged in a “cover-up” of the original incident but that chief officers threatened his client after they learned that she had filed her claim last week. The claim seeks damages in excess of $300,000.

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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