Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lawsuit by Sussex County volunteer firefighter drawing to a close.

On September 29, 2014 and October 20, 2014, respectively, a settlement conference and a trial are scheduled before Sussex County Judge Edward V. Gannon in a "whistle blower" case that pits a veteran volunteer and his girlfriend, a female breast cancer survivor, against a Sussex County volunteer fire department and several fire department officials.

On August 14, 2012, Dale Molnar, 51, and Wendy Reskovac filed a civil lawsuit against Hampton Township and the Hampton Township Fire & Rescue Company claiming that fire department officials harassed Reskovac and shunned Molnar when he spoke out against the alleged harassment.  According to the lawsuit, Reskovac, who had responded with Molnar to an August 2008 fire call, entered the firehouse to use the restroom. When she was returning from the restroom, Robert Wehrenberg, who is described in the suit as "the President, Vice President, or other officer or senior member" of the fire department, allegedly accessed a picture of "female breasts and male genitalia" on his cell phone and showed it to others, including Reskovac.  Reskovac claimed that the photograph upset her both because of its pornographic content and because she was a breast cancer survivor.  Molnar said that he spoke with Fire Chief David Gunderman about the incident.

About a month later, Wehrenberg spoke with Molnar in private and allegedly told him that "the officers bad convened and decided that Reskovac was not allowed in the building or on the property at all."  Wehrenberg then allegedly initiated a verbal altercation with Molnar and Reskovac in presence of Chief Gunderman who "said nothing."  Reskovac then claimed to have sent a letter of complaint to the Township of Hampton which was allegedly ignored.

Molnar alleged that beginning in 2009, other members of the fire department were avoiding him and not including him on the roster of fire calls to which he responded.  His former friends in the fire department allegedly told him that Wehrenberg had instructed them not to speak with Molnar. Others told him that his treatment was part of a larger effort to "get rid of the old guys."

The complaint cites a number of other grievances and transactions that ultimately resulted in Molnar allegedly being suspended from the department and being refused refused reentry after his term of suspension was over.

The lawsuit is on-line here.  Molnar and Reskovac are represented by Pauline M.K. Young of McLaughlin & Nardi in Totowa.