Massachusetts Suit Removed to Federal Court

A lawsuit filed last month in state court by four Massachusetts firefighters has been removed to federal court by attorneys retained for the defense by the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Agency. The suit was filed on September 2, 2014 by four former members of the Groton Fire Department.

Clarence Jefferson, Stephen Tervo, Benjamin Miele and James Horan claim the department and town officials wrongful terminated them, violated their civil rights, defamed them and caused them emotional distress. The four were reportedly involved in trying to form a union. More on the original suit.

The Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Agency, who insures the town, retained counsel who promptly took steps to change venue from Middlesex County Superior Court to US District Court in Boston.

As we have seen, removing a case to federal court is a common strategic move by defense counsel when the plaintiffs’ state court complaint includes allegations of federal claims. It works on a number of levels – not the least of which is to unsettle an opponent like a football coach calling a time out just as the opposing team is trying to kick a field goal.

More on the removal.

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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