New York City firefighter Richard LaPiedra has filed a lawsuit against the city and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) because of injuries allegedly suffered while battling a fire in an apartment, according to a report from the Staten Island Advance.
LaPiedra’s Attorney, Jeffrey Guzman alleges that during the incident on September 8 2010, the veteran firefighter suffered disabling shoulder and spine injuries after slipping on the electrical wires of growing lamps used to harvest marijuana plants at a residence. Guzman confirmed that LaPiedra, 42, can sue both the city of New York and its fire department because his injuries were allegedly caused by the illegal processing of marijuana and its companion equipment, which is a statutory violation. A spokeswoman for the city law department, which is representing the city and FDNY, declined Friday to comment on the allegations, citing the pending litigation.
Authorities report that the fire started in a third-floor apartment, whose tenant, Louis Ventafredda, then 28, was later arrested for allegedly growing “multiple” pot plants. After the incident, a FDNY spokesman announced that the cause of the fire was electrical in nature, deemed accidental, and was not related to Ventafredda’s alleged drug activities. LaPiedra contends that the city and FDNY were negligent by failing to provide him proper protection to remove the alleged drug-growing equipment and for not providing a safe means of access. Guzman alleges that LaPiedra and fellow firefighters were ordered to clean up drug-related apparatus to help them exit a tenant’s top-floor apartment after extinguishing the all-hands fire.
Guzman confirmed that LaPiedra will require shoulder and spinal surgery which will end his client’s career as a firefighter. LaPiedra was named “Firefighter of the Year” in 2006 by the ASPCA after rescuing a dog belonging to a local politician from a fire. LaPiedra brother, fallen Fire Capt. Scott J. LaPiedra, an 18-year veteran, suffered fatal burns July 4, 1998, when he tried to save a woman thought to be trapped in a burning bedroom in Brooklyn. Three years ago, his son, Scott LaPiedra Jr., joined the FDNY ranks as a probationary firefighter.