$25k Settlement in NY Disability Suit

The city of Tonawanda has agreed to settle the claims of a female firefighter relative to her eligibility for disability benefits and her wrongful termination. Amy Newman was firefighter with the Tonawanda Fire Department. She suffered a shoulder injury in 2018.

After surgery and therapy, Newman returned to light duty and briefly returned to full duty before going off again. In 2020, she was denied disability benefits prompting her to file a legal challenge to the denial decision. That suit was filed December 10, 2020 in Erie County Supreme Court (File No. 814178/2021).

In 2021, while the disability case was pending the city moved to terminate Newman for engaging in physical activities deemed to be inconsistent with her disability. According to The Buffalo News, she was observed lifting and using a lawnmower, and bicycling. Newman’s attorney argued that the activities she engaged in were consistent with her medical condition. She was fired in July, 2021, prompting her to appeal her termination to Erie County Superior Court (File No. 814178/2021).

The settlement, which the city approved on earlier this month, calls for a resolution of all outstanding legal matters between Newman and the city including the disability challenge and the disciplinary appeal. Newman has reportedly qualified for a pension that will provide her with 50% of her final average salary. The settlement will pay her and her attorney a total of $25,338.

Here is more on the story.

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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