Motorcyclist hit by suspected DUI firefighter sues city

A motorcyclist hit by a San Francisco fire truck with a suspected drunk firefighter at the wheel filed a lawsuit Monday against the city and county of San Francisco.
October 28, 2013 11:58:29 PM PDT
A motorcyclist hit by a San Francisco fire truck with a suspected drunk firefighter at the wheel filed a lawsuit Monday against the city and county of San Francisco.

It's been four months since the accident, and no charges have been filed against the fire truck driver, 43-year-old Michael Quinn. The district attorney's office says they're still working the case. But, Quinn and the city and county of San Francisco have just been slapped with a lawsuit.

The surveillance video obtained exclusively by the I-Team shows what happened. Jack Frazier, 50, appears on a motorcycle at the top of the screen. The fire truck blows through the red light hitting Frazier, sending him across Howard Street into a fire hydrant.

Frazier has retained a law firm that specializes in motorcycle cases to file this lawsuit.

"This is a huge case; normally, we don't put a dollar amount in the complaint, but this is certainly an eight figure case in our view," attorney Chuck Koro told the I-Team.

The lawsuit says, "Michael Quinn ... drove the City of San Francisco Fire Department fire truck under the influence of alcohol with a conscious disregard for the rights and safety of others."

Quinn is under criminal investigation for driving the ladder truck under the influence of alcohol. He was caught on a bar's surveillance camera just after the crash, chugging pitchers of water. The I-Team has reported that the fire department is investigating whether other firefighters tried to help Quinn avoid a DUI arrest. Test results hours after the crash found Quinn with a .13 blood alcohol level.

Frazier suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken leg, ankle, foot and neck and back injuries. His recovery has been difficult.

"He's been twice re-hospitalized since spending about a month in the hospital initially after this accident," attorney Jim Romag said.

The attorneys say that Frazier hopes his lawsuit will bring about needed change in the fire department, with its long history of drinking in station houses.

Chuck Koro says Frazier "is concerned about this issue and he would like to be that something more be done."

The I-Team has done many stories over the years about drinking in the fire houses, and Chief Joanne Hayes-White began random checks for firefighters in 2005, but they apparently did not help in this case. The City Attorney's Office declined to comment on the lawsuit, because they're just reviewing it. On the criminal side, Quinn's attorney told the I-Team Monday he doesn't believe the firefighter will ever be charged -- that the evidence isn't there. Quinn had his blood test seven hours after the crash.


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