San Diego

San Diego Firefighters Harassment Judgement Upheld

Remember this case where several San Diego firefighters sued their city for forcing them to participate in in a gay pride parade in 2007 in which they claim they suffered sexual harassment? The firefighters testified that after the parade, they experienced "headaches, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome and other stress-related symptoms." A jury found in their favor last year. Now an appellate court has upheld that judgement.

Sdfire The San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

Joseph Infranco, co-counsel in the firefighters’ case, said he hopes the ruling “will end the city’s attempts to defend its act of compelling people to participate in sexually charged events against their moral and personal convictions.”

The individual firefighters were awarded damages ranging from $5,000 to $14,200. The trial court also awarded attorney fees to the firefighters in the amount of $532,980 and costs in the amount of $61,383. Those fees and costs, plus 7 percent interest, must be paid, according to the appellate ruling. In addition, fees for fighting the appeal will also be assessed in an amount to be determined later.

This was the second time the firefighters went to trial on the sexual harassment claim. A jury deadlocked in October of 2009. In that trial, the jury was asked to award each firefighter up to $1 million. LiMandri didn’t request a specific figure in this trial.

According to th San Diego Union-Tribune, "a spokeswoman for the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, said the city has not yet decided whether to take the case to a higher court."

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  1. wtf these brave fire fighters afraid of guys in speedos. the court has to be out of their mind for going along with this bullshit. these firefighters found another way to steal money. they had headaches more likely blueballs. the court just took another stand on permitting homophobia

    Posted by: walter | Oct 17, 2010 4:30:30 PM

  2. sure, let's throw good money after bad. these homophobes are willing to die in a blaze but are traumatized by cat calls and wolf whistles? give me a fucking break. they're not men; they are insecure pantywaists. they should be ashamed.

    Posted by: nic | Oct 17, 2010 4:50:01 PM

  3. These guys were required to participate in this event, they weren't given the choice and that's an important factor here. Had they made the choice to participate and then reacted this way, yeah, I would be with the "fuck 'em" side. However, the city made them participate in something that they may not have been comfortable with.

    To earlier commenters, are their current actions homophobic? Well, not being in their heads, I can't really say. However, sexual harassment is not something to take lightly or mock; be it man on woman, man on man, gay on straight, or straight on gay. It's not right. And if someone is honestly feeling sexually harassed, then the situation needs to be looked at.

    Posted by: Zach | Oct 17, 2010 5:03:16 PM

  4. What b*llsh*t. WE are subject to every shade and variation of straight oriented life 24/7 and if it caused us irritable bowel syndrome and headaches we'd all be lined up at our nearlest social security office to file for disability.

    Posted by: Vince B. | Oct 17, 2010 5:03:34 PM

  5. @ zach: amen, brother.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Oct 17, 2010 5:05:14 PM

  6. I exp headaches, nausea and othe stress related symptoms everytime I turn on the tv and see some T & A in a tight sweater telling me about uterine issues. Can I sue?

    Posted by: LG Wilson | Oct 17, 2010 5:10:58 PM

  7. They should not have been required to participate in the parade, end of story, unless it is specifically laid out in the job description that they agree to when they are hired. Incidentally, why is the city paying these guys to go to parades? (If they aren't paying them for the hours, they are definitely paying for fuel for the trucks.)

    Posted by: JC | Oct 17, 2010 5:22:05 PM

  8. I'm going to sue Joseph Infranco [ ] for emotional damage. He has hurt too many people for too long.

    Posted by: Philo | Oct 17, 2010 5:34:00 PM

  9. I agree that they shouldn't have been required to go -- totally not a requirement of being a firefighter. I wouldn't wanna go to some Baptist parade, either, not just because they'd be full of people who hate gays, but because it's a waste of time if I'm a firefighter. I do disagree with the size of the penalty or award to the firefighters. It should not have been as high as it was. It's pretty ridiculous about the harms they claimed to have suffered as a result of going.

    Posted by: X | Oct 17, 2010 6:04:18 PM

  10. And I am going to sue Zach for hurting my gay feelings.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 17, 2010 6:06:44 PM

  11. I kinda feel bad for these guys. They shouldn't have been forced into it. I'm gay and I do not enjoy these parades at all (how does assless chaps help gay rights anyway?). Luckily I have a choice not to go, unlike these guys.

    Posted by: Tonez | Oct 17, 2010 6:10:22 PM

  12. "why is the city paying these guys to go to parades"

    Public relations and recruitment efforts. It's part of the job. When SDFD personnel to go any public event, someone should film all the young women walking up to them and "sexually harassing" them.

    There's millions to be made, I tell ya!

    [I've gotten "irritable bowel syndrome" from some of the food stands at Pride, too. And headaches, after hours in the sun in full uniform? duh]

    Posted by: BobN | Oct 17, 2010 6:10:28 PM

  13. This ruling is total bullshit! I guess it's okay for "straight" parades to feature sexy women in bathing suits on floats, so guys like these firefighters can ogle them, make cat-calls, and wolf-whistle at them. However, God forbid these assholes suddenly experience what it's like when the shoe's on the other foot ( be sexually objectified). I guess the next thing they'll be claiming/suing for is that they're suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome by being "forced" to participate in San Diego's Gay Pride Parade...gimme a break!

    Posted by: Frederick | Oct 17, 2010 6:13:25 PM

  14. It seems to me the larger question here is why in the hell did they have to be "forced" in the first place to participate? Aren't their salaries paid for by the tax payers of San Diego? Don't gay people pay taxes in San Diego? This should have been a non-issue. Ladies of San Diego, take note for the next time these oh so emotionally delicate firefighters in your city start with the cat calls. Sue their asses off! Another case of those who can dish it out not being able to take it. Shame!

    Posted by: Mike | Oct 17, 2010 6:23:42 PM

  15. These "men" are firefighters? Christ, people'd do better to put out their own fires with these pathetic cowards around. Lame.

    Posted by: TANK | Oct 17, 2010 6:31:22 PM

  16. @ TONEZ - i'm with you on this!

    what's PRIDE on parading around wearing assless leather pants? that i can't fathom!

    Posted by: jek | Oct 17, 2010 7:01:00 PM

  17. They were forced to participate...end of story!

    Posted by: True Words | Oct 17, 2010 7:04:30 PM

  18. I think the money awarded is over the top.
    I haven't looked up the case I have no idea what these men claimed happened to them or how they felt as a result.
    I find it hard to believe that the plaintiffs were genuinely faced with enduring physical manifestations or even emotional upset as a result of the pride parade. I apologize if I am mistaken.

    But I don't think anyone should be forced to take part in the pride parade. It kind of steps all over the point of pride to force people to come along and pretend.

    San Diego apparently doesn't understand pride (or maybe they're in the camp that knows why pride=chaps). I'm glad they lost the suit, I hope they don't appeal again.

    Posted by: Shawn | Oct 17, 2010 7:29:11 PM

  19. When they wanted $1 million apiece, it was a travesty. Now they're getting next to nothing given the time and public judgment they've invested in this case, while of course their lawyers are making off like bandits.

    As for sexual harassment, large awards are generally based on a pattern of abuse. These guys were in a parade for a few hours. It's utterly absurd to think they suffered any real harm other than the damage to their homophobia (countered by the boosts to their egos). Does anyone know if they tried to back out of the event, or if their jobs were threatened if they said they didn't want to participate?

    Actually this ruling should be tossed. Irritable bowel syndrome cannot possibly be linked to something like this. It's utter BS, but then San Diego should probably just cut its losses at this point. And the firefighters, now known as whiny jackasses, have effectively shortened their careers. I hope they enjoy their tiny settlements, since they likely won't be getting promotions any time soon.

    Posted by: Paul R | Oct 17, 2010 7:30:20 PM

  20. Well, I sure hope these SD "delicate flower" fire fighters aren't forced to participate in ANY OTHER PARADE in SD. In fact, they should be forbidden to participate lest the City be open to another stupid lawsuit. Jeez, ya think these poor babies get irritable bowel syndrome when they respond to an emergency call at a "gay" home or establishment.

    After all, isn't it fire departments around the country that publish "beef cake" calendars with fire fighters in various stages of undress? Do they do this in SD?? If not, I hope they never get into this venture since their photos may be ogled by gays! Such utter BS!!

    Posted by: Jaybird89101 | Oct 17, 2010 7:41:53 PM

  21. gay people, day in and day out, are subjected to straight harassment or indoctrination of all sorts. but, we don't sue. firemen are paid out of the public coffers. they are not private employees or journeymen or itinerants. they are fucking public employees. by definition, you serve the public. if your boss tells you to go demonstrate support for a particular segment of society, you better god-damned do it and don't moan about it later. the fags (and, yes, that is what you are) that abet this silliness or are apologists for the recompense -- which is nothing but a waste of tax-payer money -- make me ill.

    anyone who is sucking off the common teat should not complain when he is asked to do something that might give him a tummy ache. gays are citizens, too: assless chaps or not.

    Posted by: nic | Oct 17, 2010 7:48:30 PM

  22. Well said, Nic. Not to mention that San Diego is one of the largest metro areas in the US and has a highly visible gay population. These guys wanted money for nothing, plain and simple, and they got almost nothing because the claims are so bogus.

    Posted by: Paul R | Oct 17, 2010 8:08:01 PM

  23. These firemen are such pussies.

    Posted by: Philo | Oct 17, 2010 8:17:51 PM

  24. This smells of "work rules" and "job description" union politics more than hurt feelings.

    Basically, you can hardly find a group more likely to prevail in court than union firefighters (govt. employees at that). There is essentially zero incentive to rule any other way. It's the same reason that 9/11 ground zero workers were just awarded billions (yes, with a "b") in "compensation" for their health problems resulting from workplace exposure.

    Only puppies and children get more sympathy from the courts.

    Posted by: anon | Oct 17, 2010 8:25:16 PM

  25. I'll take the firefighter district that covers the French Quarter in New Orleans. If the men have a call to go out on a packed Sunday, they usually make a circle around St. Ann and Bourbon on the way back with shirts off. YES...they love the hoots and hollers of the gay boys!

    Posted by: Piper | Oct 17, 2010 9:24:42 PM

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