On March 13, 2016, I appeared on Fox News’ Americas News HQ (@ANHQDC) with host Arthel Neville (@ArthelNeville) and Kisha Hebbon (@KishaHebbon) to discuss the Boston Fire Department Commissioner’s statement that the department and the City of Boston intend to sue the manufacturer of their fire trucks after the death of two firefighters and other malfunctions and issues with their trucks.
As discussed in the appearance, the comments that the Department and the City will be filing a lawsuit against the engine manufacturer will not be a wrongful death action which might be some people’s first impression of the comments. Negligence and wrongful death actions have been brought by the victim’s families against the engine manufacturer and the City itself will likely be found liable and responsible for paying some of the damages.
In fact, the timing of the Commissioner’s comments is distracting as it comes on the heels of a 77-page National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report which analyzed the tragedy and found a constellation of causes which include the City’s lack of training to fight fires in high winds, inadequate staffing and failure to adequately control the risk.
Can the City bring a lawsuit against the engine manufacturer? Yes but their lawsuit will likely be limited to the damages that flow from the repairs and costs associated with the unavailability of the fleet.
It is also very concerning to hear that equipment problems with the engines have left parts of the City of Boston exposed to fires without coverage with ladder trucks. This certainly can expose the manufacturer and the City to other actions should the unavailability of the trucks result in damage of injury.