In August 2000, a Southtown volunteer firefighter was injured at a firefighter convention in Little Valley, New York. The volunteer claimed that a member of another Fire Department plowed over him during a series of ongoing pranks between fire companies. The defendant firefighter argued that the volunteer purposely stepped into his path with the intention of stopping him. The volunteer claimed he was not involved in any horseplay and that the other firefighter was intoxicated and purposely slammed into him. The volunteer sustained a grade III shoulder separation, requiring two shoulder surgeries. The defendant firefighter’s insurance company refused to settle the case.
The Court scheduled two separate trials with two separate juries: the first to determine liability and the second to assess damages.
Attorneys John Comerford and Neil McKinnon presented five days of testimony on liability to an Erie County jury. The jury deliberated for two hours and found the defendant partly at fault. The parties reached a confidential settlement a few weeks prior to the damages trial.