Court documents show that the town is settling a lawsuit brought by a New Canaan firefighter claiming that municipal officials for years failed to address multiple instances of abuse by a superior in the department.
The town and firefighter “have entered into a settlement agreement,” according to an order signed Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa L. Bryant.
The terms of the settlement are not known. Attorneys for the plaintiff and town declined to comment when reached by NewCanaanite.com.
The plaintiff was seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, costs and “any other relief that the court deems fair, just and equitable,” according to the lawsuit, filed April 7.
It claims that a captain in the New Canaan Fire Department over the course of nearly one dozen years made overtly racist and homomisic comments to the firefighter, a white male, while singling him out through criticisms, quashing his bids for promotion and hampering his ability to earn wages through overtime. The captain nicknamed him ‘Toby’ or ‘Kunta Kinte,’ referring to the African slave from the movie “Roots,” according to the complaint, and called him ‘Kunta Kinte’ or ‘Toby’ in the workplace on multiple occasions in the presence of others. He wrote the words ‘I love [racial slur in the plural]’ in large letters on the passenger side of the firefighter’s vehicle while it was parked in a Fire Department lot, according to the complaint, and the plaintiff drove it around town not knowing what was written there. In another instance, while the firefighter attended a fundraiser at the firehouse with his young minor son, the captain approached them and said that ‘your son has a [expletive] sucking face just like his father’ and grabbed the Plaintiff’s minor son’s hand and said to the Plaintiff’s minor son: ‘I know you like penis,’ ” the complaint said. The captain “repeatedly mocked and insulted the Plaintiff, calling the Plaintiff ‘stupid,’ ‘retarded,’ ‘lazy,’ ‘[expletive] sucker,’ ‘incompetent,’ and ‘the department clown.’ [The captain] has also told the Plaintiff ‘I hope your kids are [homomisic slur in the plural],’ ” the complaint said.
The town in June moved to dismiss parts of the lawsuit.
The two sides held settlement conferences this month.
According to minutes from a settlement conference held Aug. 13 before Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam, “The parties have reached an agreement in principle as to the material terms of a potential resolution. Additional approvals must be sought and obtained before any agreement can be finalized. The settlement judge will recommend to the trial judge that this matter be administratively closed with leave to reopen on or before November 20, 2020, to permit the parties the time needed to attempt to finalize the agreement.”
The plaintiff, a 41-year-old man hired as a full-time firefighter in 2006, is represented by Shelton-based attorney Michael Lynch of Lynch Law Group LLC. The town is represented by Claire Ryan and Jonathan Zellner of Stamford-based Ryan Ryan Deluca LLP.
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