Trenton Ordered To Pay Nearly $1M In Firefighter Lawsuit

TRENTON, NJ – The final judgment in a long-awaited civil lawsuit against the Trenton Fire Department was released last week, ordering the city to pay nearly $1 million in damages and fees, according to the court document.

The judgment stems from a 2014 lawsuit filed by former firefighter Jesse Diaz, who alleged that he overheard a racial slur made by a co-worker of his at the department in 2012. Diaz said he faced retaliation and harassment after complaining about the incident, so much so that he was forced into retirement, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit went to trial and in September, a six-person jury ruled in Diaz’s favor, awarding him $750,000.

But last week, the final judgment revealed that the city would be expected to pay much more than that.

In addition to the $750,000 for Diaz, the city is expected to pay $218,000 to cover attorney’s fees for Katz and Dougherty, the firm that represented Diaz in the suit.

The total that the city is ordered to pay amounts to $968,000, the document said.

George Dougherty, who represented Diaz, said the incident damaged the former firefighter’s, “very, very happy career.”

Diaz claimed in the suit that he initially complained to his captain about the slur, but was told the issue would be handled “in house.” Unsatisfied with that response, Diaz reported the incident to Trenton fire chiefs,

After he made the report, Diaz alleged he faced retaliation. He was given “low man” tasks – like cleaning for hours on end, despite being a senior firefighter. He eventually retired in 2014, the suit said.

Dougherty said he wasn’t surprised at the jury’s decision. He said the department spread lies about Diaz and the jury was able to see that.


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