A volunteer fire department in Tennessee is facing a state investigation and two of its officers are facing a civil suit following the dismissal of a member.
The state comptroller is investigating the finances of the Hillsview Volunteer Fire Department, in McMinn County. According to Fire Chief John Benjamin Sneed, the investigation was prompted by a complaint by former firefighter Ronald Ledford, who had been terminated.
Ledford and several other firefighters are suing Chief Sneed and Lieutenant Ray Wilson, Jr., claiming that they illegally recorded their conversations in violation of Tennessee’s “Invasion of Privacy” laws. Tennessee is a one-party state, meaning that one party to a conversation must be aware it is being recorded for it to be legal. Violations of the law can result in criminal charges as well as civil liability.
The suit was filed earlier this year, and claims that information from the recordings was used to terminate Ledford. The plaintiffs are seeking statutory damages of $10,000 each plus $200,000 in punitive damages and attorneys fees.