Two Suits Filed Over LA County Firehouse Shooting

Two lawsuits were filed last week over the shooting at a Los Angeles County fire station last year. Heidi Carlon, the widow of firefighter Tory Carlon, filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court naming the estate of the firefighter-shooter, Jonathan Patrick Tatone, and the county as defendants. 

The second suit, also filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, was brought by Captain Arnoldo V. Sandoval against the same parties. Captain Sandoval was shot and wounded by Tatone. Tatone and Carlon were reportedly both engineers on different shifts at Station 81 and had a longstanding dispute.

The shooting occurred on June 1, 2021 at Station 81 following shift change. Tatone, 45, departed and later returned, fatally shooting Carlon, 44, and wounding Captain Sandoval. Tatone later committed suicide.

Both lawsuits contend Tatone was a known problem employee who was unstable, combative, and a bully. The suits claim the county failed to properly protect Carlon and Captain Sandoval from Tatone. Both suits name a number of Doe defendants who may be named later as co-defendants.

Quoting from Captain Sandoval’s complaint:

  • For years prior to the subject shooting, TATONE exhibited threatening, bullying, combative, angry, and unstable behavior, and said conduct was made known TATONE’S employer COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES and its supervisors.
  • After a shift change on the morning of June 1, 2021, TATONE returned to the fire station where he shot and killed Tory Carlon, and then shot and critically wounded Plaintiff.
  • Defendants, JONATHAN PATRICK TATONE (Deceased), and DOES 1 through, were aware of the probable dangerous consequences of said conduct and willfully and/or deliberately failed to avoid those consequences.
  • Defendants, JONATHAN PATRICK TATONE’S conduct, and that of DOES 1 through 25, subjected Plaintiff to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of Plaintiff’s rights.
  • Defendant COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES and Does 26 through 50 are responsible and liable for the subject assault and battery upon plaintiff SANDOVAL by TATONE as the COUNTY OF LOS ANGLELES and Does 26 through 50 were themselves guilty of positive misconduct, and were joint participants in the subject assault and battery by TATONE because the COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES and Does 26 through 50 purposefully ratified the employee TATONE’S tortious conduct by knowing of the employee shooter’s longstanding threatening, bullying, combative, angry, and unstable behavior as a COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES employee at Station 81 for years prior to the June 1, 2021 shooting incident, and purposely failing to take any preventative action to remove the bullying, combative, angry, and unstable employee TATONE from Station 81 and the Fire Department, and away from co-workers such as plaintiff who were the known targets of TATONE’S dangerous animus.

Quoting from Carlon’s complaint:

  • Although Tatone pulled the trigger, it was Los Angeles County Fire Department Leadership’s ratification of Tatone’s years of dangerous conduct that was the substantial factor in the death of TORY CARLON.
  • COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES and Does 1 through 50 breached their duty to properly supervise its employees, including TATONE, so as to reasonably protect other employees from the dangerous condition that was TATONE.
  • COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES and Does 1 through 50 chose to not take reasonable and appropriate preventative action to remove the dangerous condition that was TATONE from Station 81 and the Fire Department, and their deliberate inaction became ratification and enabled TATONE’s to kill CARLON and badly wound Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain Arnold Sandoval.
  • Defendant COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES and Does 1 through 50 are responsible for the killing of TORY CARLON as joint participants because the COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES and Does 1 through 50 ratified TATONE’s dangerous conduct by deliberately choosing not to address TATONE’s years long dangerous, combative and threatening behavior and by deliberately choosing to not remove the dangerous condition that was TATONE from Station 81 and the Fire Department and far from other Los Angeles Firefighters who could be foreseeably hurt or killed by TATONE.
  • In other words, the COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES and Does 1 through 50 not only knew or should have known this was going to happen, they enabled and ratified the very conduct that caused it to happen.

Carlon’s suit alleges wrongful death, battery, and negligence. Sandoval’s suit alleges battery and negligence. These two suits bring to three, the number of suits that have been filed over this incident. Carlon’s parents filed suit against Tatone’s estate back in October.

Here are copies of the complaints.

Here is news coverage dating back to June, 2021 about the shooting.

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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