Pawtucket Building Owner Sues Fire Department and State for $6.7 Million

The owner of a building in Pawtucket, Rhode Island has filed a pro se lawsuit against the Pawtucket Fire Department, various fire officers, the city, the mayor and members of the state fire marshal’s office claiming each violated his civil rights.

Mark E. Amesbury, doing business as Polytechnic, filed suit in US District Court alleging violations of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The suit seeks a total of $6.7 Million in damages. Amesbury claims the fire department illegally accessed his building on June 30, 2021 using keys from the Knox Box to conduct an illegal search.

Quoting from the complaint:

  • Pawtucket Fire Department entered the building while l was not there by wrongfully unlocking the Emergency Access Box (Knoxbox) on the outside of the building and seizing the 2 master keys to the building. The keys in the Emergency Access Box are for emergency access only.
  • They then used the master keys to unlock the front door to the building, seizing the building, and several Pawtucket Fire Department employees entered.
  • Once they entered Pawtucket Fire Department employees, with no warning to the tenants, pulled the fire alarm pull station, seizing the fire alarm system and building, and setting off the fire alarm system horns and strobes forcing the tenants to leave the building thus seizing the entire approx 40,000 sq foot building. Tenants that do not leave when the fire alarm system goes off are subject to a $500.00 fine.
  • An investigation was open with the FBI into this wrongful search and seizure of my property.
  • After resetting the Fire alarm system and searching the common areas in the building, hallways and loading dock area, the Pawtucket Fire Department employees used the master keys to enter and search both area’s occupied by me and the tenant’s addresses in the building.
  • Each tenant area has its own street address including 106 Tweed, 102 Harris and 45 Lee Street to name a few of the over 24 street addresses. The building is on 3 streets and Post office recognizes and delivers mail to each address. Further the Patriot Act requires the separate street address on each door.
  • Pawtucket Fire Department employees enter the tenant’s addresses using the master keys without knocking startling the tenants. They told the tenants that they were inspecting and that they were there because the fire alarm system had not been maintained in yet only minutes earlier when they pulled the fire pull station the fire alarm system clearly when off further there were no troubles, ground faults or other problems indicated of the fire alarm panel read out screen showing that it was in perfect order.
  • Also since they had reset the fire alarm system there was nothing to inspect about the fire alarm system in the tenants areas. The Pawtucket Fire Department employ statements were both false and slander.

The suit further references a search that occurred on August 19, 2021 by state and local fire officials that resulted in “44 total pages of violations as a means of ship sinking (piling on and on with no concern for the truth) as a way to justify their actions because I made it clear that they were being sued in Federal Court.”

Here is a copy of the complaint.

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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