Denver Firefighter Sues City and Union After Disability Retirement

A Denver firefighter who was placed on light duty and later granted a disability pension following an injury to his hand, has filed suit against the city and IAFF Local 858 claiming they conspired to violate his rights. David Perez filed suit earlier this year in Denver County District Court. The city removed the case to US District Court for the District of Colorado today.

Perez filed the suit pro se, and alleges the following facts:

  • Plaintiff suffered a crushing hand injury while mitigating a house fire while employed as a firefighter with the DFD.
  • The DFD would intentionally violate the Plaintiffs work restriction and exacerbating the injury to his hand with malicious intent.
  • The City and its Departments use a well-documented, witnessed Line-of-Duty injury against the plaintiff to delay then deny medical treatment and the use that injury to find the Plaintiff unfit for duty, placing the Plaintiff on Leave Without Pay and ultimately terminating the Plaintiffs employment without due process.
  • After the City’s Department of Risk Management accepted liability of the Plaintiffs
  • LOD injury, the Department of Risk Management would then delay the Plaintiffs medical treatment for nearly 3 months and later deny necessary medical treatment for his LOD injury, over 220 days after the Plaintiffs initial injury; an injury which the City’s Department of Risk Management initial approved and admit claim as a LOD injury.
  • When the Department of Risk Management denied the Plaintiffs’ Workers Compensation claim, together, the City and its Departments and the Local 858 would conspire and use the Plaintiffs medical conditions to place him on LWOP.
  • For the last 3 months of the Plaintiffs time employed with the City, the City would keep the Plaintiff on LWOP, denying transfer requests to work positions he could do, denying request for assistance and guidance on his employment status and medical condition, actions which the DFD has done in past for other injured firefighters.
  • The City would deny further medical treatment only to use the Plaintiffs injury as grounds for terminating his employment at midnight of 3 Mar 2020.
  • The City’s Department of Rick Management would continue its deceptive practices and delay mediation and continue to deny medical evaluations and treatment for over two years after the Plaintiff was terminated from his position and over 3 years from the initial LOD injury.
  • Prior to the termination of the Plaintiff by the City, Plaintiff reached out to the Local 858 requesting guidance and representation. The Plaintiff wanted to file a grievance on multiple accounts for the unfair labor acts conducted by the City and its Departments in violating the DFD and the City’s own employment policies and procedures.
  • The Local 858 denied all requests of support to the Plaintiff in filing a grievance and representing the Plaintiff with his claims against the City and its Departments.
  • The Local 858 failed their duty of fair representation on behalf of the Plaintiff as a due paying member.

The complaint alleges civil conspiracy, bad faith breach of an insurance contract (since the city is self-insured), beach of contact against the city, and breach of contract against the union. 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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