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Judge rejects Berlin Fire Dept. motion

(July 23, 2015) The Berlin Fire Company’s motion for a partial summary judgment in the Zackary Tyndall case that alleges that he was harassed was denied last Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander.
Hollander’s rejection of the motion came just short of two years after Tyndall, a former fire company employee, filed his harassment complaint in August 2013.
 In Lipton’s 63-page opinion, she said the case concerned allegations of employment discrimination and “intentional infliction of emotional distress” against two former coworkers of Tyndall, Bryon Trimble and Derrick Simpson.
Tyndall contended that he was fired in retaliation for reporting certain activities at the department, including his contention that the defendants created a hostile work environment that led to his severe depression.
An evaluation by a clinical psychologist included in the judge’s memorandum concluded that Tyndall “developed a Major Depressive Disorder … experienced through his affiliation with the fire company.”
Lipton also wrote, “Tyndall has produced evidence that Trimble and Simpson—men almost twice his age, and in supervisory positions—subjected him to a prolonged, continuous barrage of derogatory remarks, to which Tyndall repeatedly objected.” Lipton added that the alleged conduct “occurred in two workplaces … and spanned multiple years.”
Lipton continued, “Considering the facts … a reasonable juror could find that such conduct was deliberate, intentional and outrageous … [and] extreme, beyond any typical workplace offenses or indiscretions, and ‘utterly intolerable in a civilized community.’”
She also added, “To be sure, Tyndall may not succeed in his claim. But, it is not the province of the court to make factual findings or to resolve factual disputes.”
Amy Taylor Sevigny, an associate at the law firm Otway, Russo & Rommel who represents Tyndall, called the ruling “strong language that’s favorable to our client.”
“We think we have strong facts and the court agreed with us,” she said. “It’s a big win for the progression of Zack’s case.”
Sevigny said it was likely a trial date would be set “within the next few months.”
Berlin Fire Company President David Fitzgerald was not available for comment.