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New Rochelle Board of Education Seeks to Drag New Rochelle Fire Department into Federal Lawsuit

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New Rochelle Board of Education Seeks to Drag New Rochelle Fire Department into Federal Lawsuit

February 18, 2015 - 17:21
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WHITE PLAINS, NY -- Lawyers for the City School District of New Rochelle have today filed a request with District Judge Cathy Seibel in United States District Court to bring the New Rochelle Fire Department into an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit against the District brought by Jennifer Feltstein, a then-student at New Rochelle High School. Feltstein and a second mobility impaired student were not removed from the high school during a fire incident in 2013.

On behalf of his client, Michael Miranda of Miranda Sambursky Slone Sklarin Verveniotis LLP stated in a letter to Judge Seibel that the district is claiming “the Fire Department immediately arrived at the scene on the date of the smoke alarm and instructed District personnel not to evacuate Ms. Feltenstein under the non-life threatening circumstances then existing”.

New Rochelle Fire Chief Louis DiMiglio has consistently denied that anyone from his department gave any such instruction to anyone nor would they as to do so would be a violation of New York State law.

The request, known as an “impleading”, is “based upon State theories of negligence, and contribution and/or indemnity” and holds that the Fire Department is “a necessary party to an adjudication of this matter”. The letter states:

In short, once the Fire Department arrived, they took over the scene and had full authority for all decisions, thereby insulating the School District from liability for the alleged failure to evacuate.

The lawyers for the district have requested a pre-motion conference to consider the request and stated that if such conference is not held they are “prepared to file a third-party complaint within the next ten business days”.

UPDATE 2/19: Federal District Judge Cathy Seibel has granted the request of the City School District of New Rochelle to implead the New Rochelle Fire Department in Feltenstein v. City School District of New Rochelle. In a ruling filed Thursday February 19th, Seibel wrote "Pre-motion conference is waived, and formal motion is not necessary. Defendant shall file the Third-Party Complaint by 3/1/15. Defendant shall advise the Court when the Third-Party Defendant has appeared so that a conference may be scheduled.

UPDATE 2/20: City Spokesperson issued a statement: "the City has not received any notice from the court and we will not comment on pending litigation."