A Brooklyn appellate panel overruled a lower court to keep in place a firefighter’s termination for abusive language and refusing to follow orders.
The volunteer Village of Mamaroneck Fire Department terminated Michael Pasqua’s membership due to his verbal abusiveness towards colleagues during a fire and his failure to follow orders—including one to leave the scene because he was not wearing proper firefighting gear.
At a hearing leading up to the termination, a reference was made to Pasqua’s “assault” of a firefighter, which caused a previous suspension.
Pasqua did not testify and sued the fire department over its termination decision.
In September 2012, Acting Westchester Supreme Court Justice Susan Cacace shaved the penalty to a 29-month suspension and credited Pasqua for the period of suspension he already served.
The fire department appealed, and on Wednesday, the Appellate Division, Second Department, reversed Cacace.
“The petitioner’s conduct endangered himself and distracted his coworkers while they were fighting a fire, thus possibly endangering them as well. Under these circumstances, the penalty of termination of membership was not shocking to one’s sense of fairness,” the panel said in Matter of Pasqua v. Village of Mamaroneck Fire Department, 2012-10589.
Kevin Staudt, a partner at McCullough, Goldberger & Staudt in White Plains and Patricia Gurahian, an associate, represented the fire department.
Donald Mazin of Larchmont represented Pasqua.