LODD Lawsuit Filed Over Florida Trailer Mishap

The family of a Florida firefighter who was fatally injured when a trailer filled with sand tipped, has filed suit accusing the city of gross negligence and wrongful death. Apopka firefighter Austin Duran was injured on June 30, 2022 while attaching the trailer to a fire department vehicle.

The 4,500 pound trailer was used by the fire department for hazmat incidents and was being moved to a different station. Duran, 25, was initially pinned by the trailer. After being extricated, he was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center where he was placed on a ventilator and underwent four surgeries including operations on his spine, shoulder, ribs and leg. He died two weeks later.

The suit claims the trailer was “defectively and dangerously constructed, designed and maintained by CITY.” Quoting from the complaint:

  • That on June 30, 2022, and prior thereto the City of Apopka and City of Apopka Fire Department did not have proper policies, training, safety protocol for the use of the sand trailer which was involved in this incident.
  • That Austin Duran and a fellow firefighter were never properly trained, instructed, assisted by more experienced fire personnel or given instructions on how to move or hitch the sand trailer or attach to fire department vehicles prior the incident on June 30, 2022.
  • That on June 30, 2022, it was the first time Austin Duran and a fellow firefighter had ever used or attempted to move or hitch the sand trailer without any prior training, experience, instruction or supervision.
  • Austin Duran on June 30, 2022, was instructed by a superior at the Apopka Fire Department to move or hitch the sand trailer.
  • That the City of Apopka did not maintain at that time any instruction manuals, personal instruction or proper training for fire personnel, more specifically, Austin Duran on the use, operation, movement and attaching of the sand trailer prior to and on the date of the incident June 30, 2022.
  • That CITY had taken the sand trailer out of service in the past because it knew it was dangerous, a hazard and unsafe for fire personnel to use or operate the sand trailer and that it was substantially certain to cause injury and death.
  • That the City of Apopka did not have in place procedures for the safety and use of equipment prior to the use of equipment, more specifically the sand trailer at issue in this litigation.
  • The CITY knew with substantial certainty that the exposure was intentionally increased and worsened by the employer’s deliberate and malicious conduct in permitting Austin Duran to use an inherently dangerous and non-sanctioned fire department vehicle.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

Here is more about what happened:

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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