Taxpayers on hook for crash, JCFD Chief Steven McGill throws firefighters ‘under light rail’
Jersey City taxpayers are being sued by multiple plaintiffs for a city fire truck colliding into a light rail train near the Newport Mall on May 5, 2017, according to JCFD Chief Steven McGill.
“Last year, Engine Company 6 and a Light Rail train were involved in a serious accident,” wrote Jersey City Fire Department (JCFD) Chief Steven McGill in a January 17, 2018 memo related to a JCFD truck colliding with a Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) train near the Newport Mall on May 5, 2017. VIDEO FROM CBS 2 NY BELOW:
“It was determined the chauffeur of Engine 6 failed to properly stop at the rail crossing and the Fire Officer neglected to order the chauffeur to stop,” McGill stated. “Due to both of their actions and inactions, several people were injured, one seriously.”
Multiple sources have identified Jersey City Firefighter Gil Rolon as the chauffeur and Captain Domenic Magliano as the fire officer McGill alluded to. According to the Jersey Journal, Magliano suffered numerous injuries and needed two surgeries as a result of the crash.
McGill continued on that “since the accident, the City of Jersey City has received notice that it is being sued by multiple plaintiffs.” He added that “several fire department members may be subject to civil liability due to a possible tortious act(s).”
It’s unclear whether McGill meant that firefighters involved with the incident would not be indemnified by the city for any potential litigation. The chief did write that “failure to act may expose… Fire Officer(s) to possible legal liability.”
Separate sources, speaking under the condition of anonymity, took umbrage with McGill’s memo for throwing Magliano “under the light rail” as the city faces litigation. Furthermore, sources took exception with McGill’s tone due to his checkered history.
In the early 2000s, McGill, who served as the JCFD spokesperson at the time, was arrested on the Jersey City/Hoboken border by the Hoboken Police Department for DWI. McGill was apparently found sleeping in a city-owned vehicle, with the car in drive and his foot on the brake, and tests revealed he had a blood alcohol level of .16, according to a source with knowledge of the report.
In a since settled gender discrimination lawsuit, now-Battalion Chief Constance Zappella alleged that then-Battalion Chief McGill held animosity against her and denied her the opportunity to join the JCFD Arson Investigation Unit.
Of note, McGill has implemented a “zero tolerance” policy regarding “Communication of Fire Department Business to Non-Fire Department Personnel” that restricts firefighters from speaking to the media and/or city council members without his permission.
Joseph Krajnik, president of Local 1066 Firefighters Union, which represents JCFD firefighters, told Real Jersey City that he thinks the problem was that “the [HBLR] crossings in Jersey City are not marked effectively.”
“Keep in mind the train is coming from between two buildings, there should be more of a railroad crossing,” Krajnik added.
When pressed for a response to McGill stating that “several fire department members may be subject to civil liability due to a possible tortious act(s),” Krajnik refused to say anything other than “it’s an accident, pure and simple.”
Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea advised spokesperson Kimberly Scalcione to “ignore” questions regarding how many plaintiffs have filed legal notice and whether or not firefighters will be indemnified by taxpayers for any potential litigation.
I appreciate that @JC_Gov Public Safety Director James Shea is getting straight to the point, but, for the record, I do write very polite emails to @KimWallaceJC. #JerseyCity pic.twitter.com/VWTJKPs0gf
— Real Jersey City (@RealJerseyCity) March 4, 2018