Second Suit Filed Over Trainee Death at NY State Fire Academy

The parents of a Watertown firefighter who died while training at the New York State Academy of Fire Science, have filed a second wrongful death lawsuit, this time against five instructors.

Peyton L.S. Morse died after suffering a medical emergency while in engaged in a training evolution. The incident occurred at the Montour Falls facility on March 3, 2021.

Earlier this month, Morse’s parents filed suit against the State of New York in the New York Court of Claims alleging negligence and wrongful death. It did not name any other person or entity. The second suit uses essentially the same legal theories as the first suit, but alleges that the “negligence, carelessness, and breach of duty” of the five instructors caused Morse’s death.

The reason for the separate suit can be found on the Court of Claims web site:

  • The New York State Court of Claims is the exclusive forum for civil litigation seeking damages against the State of New York or certain other State-related entities….
  • The Court of Claims has no jurisdiction over any city, county or town government, or over any individual defendant.

Both suits were brought by Morse’s father, David Morse, as the administrator of Peyton’s estate, and by David and Stacy Snyder-Morse as Peyton’s parents. The second suit was filed in Jefferson County Supreme 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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