Firefighter Settles Suit For $55k in Payments From Two FDNY Chiefs

A final settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit filed by a former FDNY firefighter who claims that department insiders leaked confidential information about him in a effort to discredit him because of his involvement in the recently settled race discrimination lawsuit.

Now retired firefighter Kevin Simpkins sued the city, Battalion Chief Rory Houton and a John Doe member of FDNY last February claiming that medically confidential information was leaked to the news media.

The complaint refers to Simpkins as courageously participating “as a named plaintiff in a high-profile federal class action lawsuit successfully challenging a 40-year history of racially discriminatory hiring practices in the FDNY, United States, et al. v. City of New York, et al., 07-CV-2067 (NGG) (E.D.N.Y.),

According to the complaint:

  • [A]n FDNY supervisory-level official and using information to which his supervisory position gave him access, illegally and maliciously released Mr. Simpkins’ confidential personnel and medical information to a local New York City newspaper in October 2012 and again in January of 2014.
  • Upon information and belief, this official was Defendant FDNY Battalion Chief Rory Houton.
  • These illegal acts were done to humiliate, intimidate,discredit and retaliate against Mr. Simpkins and other firefighters involved in challenging the FDNY’s racially discriminatory hiring practices.

Over the past year the city was dismissed from the suit (see my podcast discussion with Simpkins’ attorney Pete Gleason that discusses Simpkin’s being awarded a disability pension), and Deputy Chief Paul Mannix was added as a named defendant.

Under the terms of the settlement, Chief Mannix will personally pay Simpkins $45,000 in 24 monthly installments of $1,875, and Chief Houton, now retired, will personally pay him $10,000.

Here is a copy of the original complaint: Simpkins v City of New York

Here is a copy of the settlement order: Simpkins Settlement Order

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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