Diabetic Firefighter’s Case Survives Motion to Dismiss

The case of Syracuse firefighter John Williams who was terminated because of a diabetic condition, is headed to an appellate court. Williams was terminated after a series of incidents of lightheadedness in 2011 culminated in a vehicle accident.

In 2013, arbitrator Ira Lobel ruled that the city was justified in removing Williams from active duty in 2011, but that the city failed to follow civil service procedures in handling the case. Lobel also found that Williams was no longer unfit for duty because he had gotten his diabetes under control. Lobel ruled that Williams should be returned to active duty status.

When Williams exhausted his administrative appeals in February, he was terminated. He filed suit in April to challenge the termination, but the city sought to dismiss the case. Last week, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Walter Hafner Jr. denied the city’s motion to dismiss sending the case on to a full appeal.


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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