Federal civil rights case settled
Mosey sued Logan Township fire department, claiming racial discrimination
A federal civil rights lawsuit that alleged some members of a Logan Township volunteer fire department racially discriminated against its only African-American member has been settled, according to an order issued by U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson in Johnstown.
Terms of the settlement were not available.
Travis Lunglhofer, chief of the Logan Township United Fire Department at 611 Grandview Road, stated in an email that resolution of claims brought by former member Tarence Mosey, 23, of Altoona are still pending, noting that “any comment at this time would be premature.”
Lunglhofer was asked to talk about the case and to give the fire department’s side of the story concerning the claims made by Mosey, who served in the department as a firefighter and emergency medical technician from November 2007 through February 2014.
Mosey stated in the suit filed by Philadelphia attorney Jared A. Jacobson that he was called racially sensitive names on a daily basis, that at least one member refused to fight a fire with him due to his race, that he was physically assaulted and that he was eventually dismissed from the fire department on the false pretext that he attended a social event sponsored by another volunteer fire department.
Jacobson sued for Mosey under a federal civil rights act designed, he stated in a court petition, “to assure equity of employment opportunities.”
He contended the racial discrimination Mosey suffered was “extreme and outrageous.”
The lawsuit asked for money damages based on charges of racial discrimination, creation of a hostile work environment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and retaliation.
The fire department through its attorney, Emily Mahler of Pittsburgh, in its answer to the initial lawsuit did not address the racial issues but asked Gibson to dismiss the case because it had been filed under the wrong section of the federal civil rights laws and that Jacobson should not be permitted to amend the lawsuit because the charges were not within the statute of limitations.
The defense also claimed the fire department was protected by immunity from such lawsuits.
As Gibson considered the legal arguments presented by both sides, he referred the case to the District Court’s alternative dispute resolution program and appointed a neutral mediator, attorney David B. White of the Pittsburgh law firm of Burns White, to meet with the parties.
White informed Gibson last Friday that mediation had been successful, and the judge marked the case closed but stated the court would be available if any further issues arise.
The attorneys in the case could not be reached for comment.
Since the Mosey case, Lunglhofer stated that his department “currently has minority members, and they are active in both training and service to our community.”
The president of the Blair County Chapter of the NAACP, Don Witherspoon, whose organization investigates allegations of discrimination, said this week he was aware of the Mosey complaints but noted Mosey decided to go to court to resolve his issues with the fire department.
After leaving the department, Mosey ended up in trouble with the law.
In May 2015, he was the driver of a vehicle on the North Eighth Street Bridge that struck and killed 29-year-old Brandyn Boyd and her unborn child while she was standing outside her disabled vehicle.
According to state court records, Mosey is awaiting trial in the Blair County Court of Common Pleas on charges of homicide by vehicle, homicide by vehicle while under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle, DUI and several traffic violations.