Settlement Announced in Oregon Wrongful Termination Suit

An Oregon fire chief who filed a wrongful termination suit last year after he was fired has agreed to accept a $55,000 settlement.

Chief Mike Balzer was terminated by the Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District in October 2015. Chief Balzer sued claiming the fire district’s board retaliated against him because his wife posted comments on social media that were critical of the district’s board directors.

The suit alleged breach of contract, wrongful discharge, defamation, and violation of Chief Balzer’s 1st Amendment and 14th Amendment rights. He sought $678,000 in damages and his reinstatement as fire chief.

The dispute also prompted an unsuccessful attempt to recall the three board members who voted to remove Chief Balzer. The settlement includes an agreement that the Chief will not apply for reinstatement nor pursue further claims against district or its board members.

More on the settlement.

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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