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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber EFD840's Avatar
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    Default Another FD lawsuit

    First, I think this woman's claim is absoultely crazy but the story is important because I believe this is an example of what we can expect to see on a regular basis as folks look for more places to play lawsuit lottery.

    -----------------------------------

    Lawsuit says fires treated differently

    By Neil Probst
    Montgomery Advertiser

    A Montgomery woman believes a recent court decision will clear the way for a trial in the suit she filed against the city that alleges the Fire Department employed discriminatory procedures in fighting a blaze that destroyed her home in 1999 because she is black.

    Venus Longmire is seeking a minimum of $290,000 and creation of a review board to investigate the city's handling of past fires. She said Friday that she is optimistic there will be no more delays in the longstanding case that she blames on a series of city legal filings intended to block her complaint.

    City officials strongly deny Longmire's contention that firefighters delayed efforts to bring the flames under control at her 101 N. Haardt Drive home based on a dual standard for black and white homeowners.

    "I was at the fire, and her allegations are not only unfounded but they're ludicrous," Fire Chief John McKee said.

    But two black firefighters submitted testimony in the most recent procedural wrangle that support Longmire's contention.

    One, retired firefighter Clarence Provitt, testified that "it is common knowledge that fires are fought differently on the west side (black) of Montgomery than on the east side (white), causing more damage and injury for blacks."

    That testimony came in a hearing on the city's request for a summary judgment order that would have dismissed the case due to lack of merit.

    In denying the city's request on Sept. 30, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Albritton wrote:

    "The court concludes that there are genuine issues of material fact regarding whether (former District Chief ) J.T. Raines made statements designed to thwart the firefighting at the Longmire residence because of their race.

    "Further, there are genuine issues of fact about whether the city condoned or had a policy of allowing its firefighters to fight fires differently based on the race of the property owners."

    The court has not yet released any further information about the status of the case.

    The Advertiser made repeated attempts to determine whether a trial date has been scheduled but received no clarification from either district clerks or Albritton's law clerk.

    Still, Longmire views the court's latest ruling as a victory for getting her day in court.

    "You really have to show quite a bit of evidence to move forward. We have done that. We have met that standard," she said. "What I'm concerned about is that something very heinous and racist has been allowed to exist in the Fire Department in the way they fight fires."

    "I think it was (an) abused process on part of the attorneys of the city," she said of the time lapse in moving the case towards trial. City attorneys have declined comment in the case because the lawsuit is pending.

    Longmire said she, her mother, Estelle Longmire, and her son, Melvin Robinson III, had to file four motions to compel the release of information they requested, and that at least four times, the city requested hearings in attempts to block access to information.

    Longmire is representing herself in the case and said she has spent $60,000-$70,000 of her own money.

    "It's really been horrendous. It's been very taxing," she said.

    Mayor Bobby Bright, who is an attorney, downplayed the summary judgment denial and insisted that Longmire's claim that fires are fought differently based on race is "totally, absolutely meritless," though he conceded he wasn't aware of the Longmire complaint until contacted by the Advertiser.

    He said a summary judgment is denied as long as a plaintiff can present even a minimum of evidence.

    Raines, whom Longmire accuses of ordering firefighters to halt attempts to control the blaze at her home when he learned she was black, was paraphrased in Albritton's summary judgment denial as saying he "hotly contests that he gave any order or made any comment designed to stop the firefighters from fighting the fire."

    According to Longmire's complaint, after the firefighters received instructions, they "stopped preparing the hoses, paused, dropped the hoses and slowly walked away without any attempt to put out the fire." It was not until a younger group of firefighters arrived that efforts to quell the blaze resumed, she alleges.

    Despite Longmire's belief, the city's fire chief maintains there are no dual standards for fighting house fires.

    "We fight every fire in every dwelling the same. We have SOP's (standards of procedure) we follow. ... All fires are fought the same," McKee said.

    But in his testimony, Provitt, the retired firefighter, said there were two standards.

    "For example, it is a standard custom upon arriving at a fire that there are designated manpower that will bring with them an ax, ladder, and a salvage cover from the truck to the dwelling, yet this is not the custom on the west side," he said.

    Two former firefighters doubt Longmire's allegations.

    Anthony Perkins said he led firefighters into blazes throughout town for 11 years, and that all fires were fought in the same manner without discrimination toward black homeowners. He worked in the department for 20 years before retiring as a captain in 1997.

    "Every fire I went to, we always had axes there, we always had salvage covers, we always went inside," Perkins said. "Maybe somebody else saw that (discrimination), but I didn't."

    Pete Wethington echoed Perkins' sentiments. Wethington worked out of at least six different stations before he retired as a lieutenant in 1990 after 20 years of service.

    "I can tell you this, that in all of my years in the Fire Department, it made absolutely no difference what side of town, what part of town it (a fire) was (in)," he said


  2. #2
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    I wonder what to make of that............I have never heard of such a thing ........
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  3. #3
    Forum Member Dave1105's Avatar
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    First, I think this woman's claim is absoultely crazy but the story is important because I believe this is an example of what we can expect to see on a regular basis as folks look for more places to play lawsuit lottery.
    The point here though is how do you know when someone has a legitimate claim and when someone is playing "lawsuit lotterty".... Remember, this chick has firefighters on her side too, her claims are more than possible.

  4. #4
    Forum Member FireCapt1951retired's Avatar
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    Welcome to the future of the Fire Service.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...threadid=53240
    Last edited by FireLt1951; 12-02-2003 at 09:34 AM.

  5. #5
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    Another lesson from the Professor (not the first time you have heard this)...

    Documentation, documentation, documentation. Put your activities on the radio. Have a Documentation Clerk designated to record times and details of significant fireground activities. Put your activities on the radio to memorialize times.

    Documentation, documentation, documentation. Keep detailed records of recruit training, company drills and post incident critiques.

    Documentation, documentation, documentation. For you people who are afraid of SOP's. You avoid problems like this when you have strict procedures that your people are instructed to follow every time.

  6. #6
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Another lesson from the Professor (not the first time you have heard this)...

    Documentation, documentation, documentation. Put your activities on the radio. Have a Documentation Clerk designated to record times and details of significant fireground activities. Put your activities on the radio to memorialize times.

    Documentation, documentation, documentation. Keep detailed records of recruit training, company drills and post incident critiques.

    Documentation, documentation, documentation. For you people who are afraid of SOP's. You avoid problems like this when you have strict procedures that your people are instructed to follow every time.
    If it isn't doucmented...it isn't done!

    Excellent observation, George. Ever since the FTC allowed the legal profession to begin advertising ...the amount of lawsuits has risen dramatically, the cost of health insurance has risen dramatically, and the cost of everything we deal with an a daily basis has risen dramatically to cover litigation and liability.

    I have been through a inquest into a wrongful death... I thought that I had all the "i's" dotted, the "t's" crossed in my incident narrative, which was four well detailed and documented pages long for a medical emergency, and yet the attorney for the family of the deceased asked me a question, I answered, and he stated tha tmy answer was not included in my narrative, and then asked if our actions upon arrival at the scene could have been the cause of death, and that since I was the officer in charge, I was responsible for!

    Luckily, I have the ability to think under pressure, and answered his question in such a way (short and to the point!) that his next statement was "I have no further questions, Your Honor..."
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 12-02-2003 at 02:56 PM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    OH MY GOD!!!!!

    I cannot believe her! That just chaps my *****!!!

    Another reminder to DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!! What was sensed by all your senses. What you see, hear, speak, smell, etc. I had one person try to accuse one of my guys of taking her watch after an EMS. Thankfully he documented that he removed her watch to get a better pulse and placed it in the hands of her roomate who must have forgetten where she put it. If it wasn't in the report, it didn't happen and you have no defense!

    I'm still mad!!
    _______________________
    Lt.Jason Knecht
    Altoona Fire Rescue
    Altoona, WI

  8. #8
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Documentation is the key to saving your own *** and in many cases, making your opponent look like a total fool. I've seen it first hand. We had a few managers accuse several of our officers of "taking 20 minutes to get here". Well, in reality it took I think 2.3 minutes which is vastly different than 20. I had radio recording times. Telephone recording times. Camera recording times, and card reader swipe (door lock) times. Her evidence was nothing and our evidence was 2 pages worth of times from multiple sources that all added up.

    You can guess who won and who felt really dumb.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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