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9.16.2011

Howd & Ludorf, LLC Wins Summary Judgment in Civil Rights Case Against East Haddam Fire Chief and Town of East Haddam

Howd & Ludorf, LLC Partner Kevin M. Tighe successfully defended East Haddam Fire Chief Donald Angersola and the Town of East Haddam from federal civil rights claims brought against them by Plaintiff Milan Cais.  In his suit, Mr. Cais brought claims of violation of his rights to procedural and substantive due process under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Milan Cais  v. Town of East Haddam et al. (United States District Court).

Mr. Cais’ claims stemmed from a fire which destroyed his residence.  Chief Angersola responded to the fire and was the on-site officer in charge.  While coordinating the actions of the fire companies which responded to the fire, Chief Angersola issued an order to have certain remaining portions of the residence brought down so that the fire that continued to burn in the basement of the residence could be fought effectively and without endangering any firefighting personnel.

Mr. Cais claimed that Chief Angersola did not provide him with notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to ordering the portions of the residence to be brought down and that Chief Angersola’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.  United States District Court Judge Alvin W. Thompson granted a motion for summary judgment directed to all of Mr. Cais’ claims against Chief Angersola based upon a finding that an emergency situation existed such that Mr. Cais was not entitled to either notice or a hearing prior to having the portions of his residence  brought down.  The court further concluded that, based upon the existence of the emergency situation, Chief Angersola’s decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious.  Finally, the court concluded that, since Mr. Cais was unable to prove that his constitutional rights had been violated, the Town of East Haddam was entitled to judgment in its favor as to all claims against it.

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