Buffalo Settles Medical Marijuana Suit With Firefighter for $242k

A lawsuit filed by a Buffalo firefighter who was fired for using medically prescribed marijuana, has been settled for $242,000. Scott Martin, a 12-year veteran of the department, was terminated on February 23, 2021. He is also an Air Force veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Martin filed suit in May, 2021 alleging a violation of the New York’s Compassionate Care Act. Under the Compassionate Care Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against a certified medical marijuana patient. The city claimed they handled Martin’s two positive tests in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. Unfortunately for the city, the language in the CBA predated the effective date of the Compassionate Care Act in 2016.

In September, State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto denied the city’s motion to dismiss the case, setting the stage for the settlement. The Buffalo News was unable to determine if the settlement will allow Martin to return to duty. His lawsuit sought a court order requiring him to be reinstated to the department and assigned to his original position.

The final settlement is set to be voted on by the City Council on November 29, 2022. More on the story.

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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