Judge makes right call on lawsuit
A federal judge in November threw out most aspects of a lawsuit filed by four Riverside firefighters against the village and the fire chief. It was the right decision. Now the only thing at issue is one of the firefighters’ claims: that the department’s code of conduct is “unconstitutionally vague,” which led to him being unjustly disciplined.
Our prediction is that this is going to be thrown out as well and that the discipline will be upheld.
Quite frankly, there are some people involved in this whole affair who are lucky to still be firefighters in Riverside. The whole lawsuit was simple, childish spite.
Let’s not forget how the whole thing started. A group of Riverside off-duty firefighters decided to go to a bar after the department’s Christmas party and wound up involved in a drunken brawl.
For their involvement in the incident, the firefighters (including the one who punched an off-duty Cicero cop) received what we’d consider pretty darn light punishment. The punch-thrower — whom the chief recommended initially be fired — ended up keeping his job. Three others received three-day suspensions, while a fourth received a 21-day suspension. The harsher punishment was doled out due to a prior disciplinary issue.
That’s where it should have ended.
Instead, the firefighters somehow decided they’d been wronged and sued the village, not only to have their punishments rescinded but for monetary damages. Incredible.
When this lawsuit was first filed, we suggested it was high time for village management to clamp down on the junior-high factionalism inside the fire department. It’s likely the village will have to wait until the final aspect of the lawsuit is decided before moving on this, but once it is, it’s time to right the ship.
This isn’t a private club, it’s a public safety department. It needs to run like one.