Maryland Firefighter Death Lawsuit Moves to Federal Court

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) -- A wrongful death lawsuit filed by parents of a firefighter trainee has been moved to federal court.

The case was shifted from Frederick County Circuit Court to U.S. District Court in Baltimore earlier this month at the request of the defendants, a group of current and former Frederick County officials, according to court records.

They exercised their right to have the case removed to federal court after the parents of Andrew Waybright amended their complaint last month, alleging that policies and procedures at the county firefighter academy deprived Waybright of his right to life under the U.S. Constitution.

Lawyers for both sides have until June 27 to submit motions to U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett.

Waybright, 23, of Gettysburg, Pa., died of heat exhaustion July 2, 2002, his first full day of training, after collapsing in humid, 84-degree heat near the end of an hour-long outdoor workout. A local board of inquiry found that trainees were denied water, and that an instructor who failed to recognize Waybright's heatstroke symptoms refused help from passers-by.

The county has sought the lawsuit's dismissal in state court, contending that because the death occurred on the job, James and Shirley Waybright's only recourse is the state Workers Compensation Board, which has ruled that they are not eligible for dependents' benefits.