Florida Retaliation Suit Voluntarily Dismissed

A lawsuit accusing the Town of Palm Beach, an Assistant Fire Chief and the town’s risk manager of malicious prosecution, negligent infliction of emotional distress, civil rights violations, false arrest/imprisonment and retaliation has been voluntarily dismissed.

Former Palm Beach Firefighter Jeremy DeRosa agreed to dismiss his lawsuit last week. He was terminated in January of 2014 after being charged criminally with workers compensation fraud following an ankle injury. The criminal case was dismissed in January of 2016.

DeRosa filed the civil suit in September, 2016 in Palm Beach County Circuit Court naming the town, Assistant Chief Brodie Atwater, and Risk Manager Karen Temme as defendants. The town removed the case to US District Court in October to address the federal civil rights (due process and 1st Amendment) claims. It was returned to Palm Beach County Circuit Court in January to address the state law claims.

According to DeRosa’s suit, his problems began in 2012 after he criticized cuts to firefighter benefits. He claims thereafter Chief Atwater singled him out for special scrutiny including during drug/alcohol testing. DeRosa accused Chief Atwater of directly observing DeRosa’s providing of a urine sample, and contended Chief Atwater was responsible in part for the workers comp fraud charges being brought against him.

According to the Palm Beach Daily News, Chief Atwater’s direct observation was necessary because DeRosa’s first urine test came back as unusable, requiring a second test a few days later. DeRosa was initially unable to provide a sample and claims the process was “humiliating.”

More on the story.

Here is earlier coverage of the case, including the complaint.

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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