Fire Law Headlines – Buffalo Hearing Loss Lawsuit, Florida Resignation, and Kentucky Facebook Post

Its been another of those busy days on the fire law news front. Here are few of the stories in the headlines:

A total of 193 Buffalo firefighters have filed 20 separate lawsuits against a total of six defendants over siren related hearing loss. The defendants are: American LaFrance, LLC, Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corp., Seagrave Fire Apparatus, LLC, Mack Trucks, Inc., Pierce Manufacturing, Inc. and Federal Signal Corporation. The suits were originally filed in New York Supreme Court, but have been removed and consolidated into one in federal court.

Here is a copy of one of the 20 state court complaints: Buffalo Hearing Loss

Here is a copy of the notice by the defendants to remove the case to US District Court and consolidate the cases into one: Buffalo Removal Consolidation

A lieutenant with Clearwater (FL) Fire & Rescue has resigned following his admission to having sex with two women while on duty. Lt. Stephen Coward’s resignation followed the delivery of a package from an anonymous source that included a flash drive with 40 emails between Coward and a woman, and a video of them in the fire station. More on the story.

And in Kentucky, a paramedic who was fired for a Facebook rant against the mayor has filed suit in federal court alleging wrongful termination and violation of her First Amendment Rights.

Crystal Norton, formerly with the Somerset City Fire Department, claims she was fired after complaining on Facebook about Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler. According to the complaint., Norton was upset about “the Mayor’s handling of a condemnation/nuisance abatement issue, wherein it is believed that the city and the Mayor fabricated circumstances enabling them to destroy the home of a retired city firefighter, Mr. William Bill Roberts… including taking the retired city firefighter into custody for a mental health evaluation and, after Mr. Robert’s was determined to be mentally healthy, arresting him on bogus charges.”

According to the complaint she posted the following:

“This is absolutely unbelievable! The worst part is I can’t believe people are standing behind our crooked mayor still! I don’t care the conditions of his home you HAVE to give him a written notice and a date to be out by, not just black ball him and throw him into jail and then tear his home down while you conveniently have him locked up. There was a better way to go about this … I hope he throws the kitchen sink at the mayor and everyone involved for such a dirty move! Such a shame, I didn’t know somerset [sic] was that crooked! Sure hope we get a good, Godly mayor in jan [sic] to take this city upward and out of the sewers.”

Norton claims she was called before the mayor personally, who chastised her about the post before terminating her.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Norton v Somerset

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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