YCMTSU New Haven

In a case that is certain to be a contender for the YCMTSU Case of the Year for 2014, an applicant for the New Haven Fire Department is suing the city claiming he was passed over because the Fire Chief is having a relationship with his ex-girlfriend.

Eric Crenshaw filed suit in US District Court claiming Fire Chief Allyn Wright specifically targeted him on his ex’s recommendation. The complaint names the City of New Haven, Chief Wright, and Torrey Townsend as defendants. It alleges that Crenshaw’s due process rights were violated, a breach of the implied warranty of fair dealing, tortious interference with contractual expectations, and defamation.

According to the complaint, Crenshaw met Townsend during the application process for the fire department and had a brief relationship that ended with mutual allegations of assault. According to Crenshaw’s complaint, his request for a protection order was granted while Townsend’s request was denied.

Townsend later began having a relationship with Chief Wright and when Crenshaw was given a conditional job offer to start the fire academy, she “disparaged the plaintiff to defendant Wright in an effort to keep the plaintiff from being appointed as a firefighter. Defendant Wright decided to block the appointment of the plaintiff to the Fire Department in an effort to appease defendant Townsend, with whom he was intimately involved beginning in at least 2012.”

The complaint claims that Chief “Wright submitted the application and supporting paperwork submitted to the City by the plaintiff to exacting review in order to find pretextual reasons to remove him from the list.

The pretextual reasons why Crenshaw was denied admission to the academy involved three things. First, the city claimed Crenshaw “had not been candid in a question about drug use, wherein he stated he had used marijuana 1-5 times in the past, where, in fact, he had used it 5-10 times.” Second, the city “concluded he had failed accurately to report outstanding debts by failing to mention an old $104 small claims judgment against him.” Third the city “stated that [an] anonymous letter and other anonymous information played a role in its decision”. Crenshaw claims the anonymous letter and information came from Townsend.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Crenshaw v New Haven

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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