Injured North Bangor (PA) Firefighter Can Pursue Claim

A North Bangor firefighter injured when an allegedly drunk colleague flipped a fire truck can move toward trial with his claim that the fire company’s lax attitude toward drinking on duty led to the crash, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel refused to dismiss a claim by firefighter Stuart Mintz that the North Bangor Fire Company, Chief Frederick Farleigh and President Christopher Louszko put Mintz at risk by allowing a drinking culture to flourish in the firehouse.

Mintz suffered a serious shoulder injury in July 2010 when Assistant Fire Chief Zachary Romano, then 20, rolled a fire tanker while negotiating a turn on the way back to the firehouse from a parade. Attorneys for Mintz and his wife and the fire company did not immediately return calls Monday.

Romano, Upper Mount Bethel Township, where the fire company is located, and township officials are also named as defendants in the suit.

Although Mintz’s lawsuit originally argued Romano’s actions violated his constitutional rights to be free from injury, the judge rejected the claim, saying that a government employee must intentionally cause an injury for such a claim to succeed.

In a new complaint filed in July, Mintz added a claim that his injuries were the result of a “state created danger.” He alleged fire officials were to blame for the crash because they created “a custom and policy” of allowing firefighters to drive firetrucks after drinking.

Addressing a motion by the fire officials to dismiss the claim, Stengel wrote in a decision issued last week that Mintz’s allegations show the crash was foreseeable, that fire officials willfully disregarded the danger, that the fire company had a responsibility for Mintz’s safety and that a misuse of authority led to the crash.

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