On November 19, 2015, ABC7 Bay Area broadcast a story on Panish Shea & Boyle LLP’s lawsuit against firefighter Michael Quinn and the City and County of San Francisco. In June 2013, plaintiff Jack Frazier was riding his motorcycle facing a green light on 5th Avenue in San Francisco when he was struck by a fire truck that ran a red light and failed to clear the intersection while responding to a call for service.
As a result of the collision, Frazier was thrown from his motorcycle, his body skidding across the intersection and into a fire hydrant across the street. He suffered severe trauma including crush injuries to his left foot, knee, nine broken ribs and a fractured shoulder. Mr. Frazier underwent numerous surgeries and has suffered from chronic pain syndrome since the incident.
Firefighter Michael Quinn was intoxicated and on-duty, behind the wheel of the fire truck at the time of the accident. Rather than treat Frazier for his injuries, the firefighter walked around the corner and disappeared. Surveillance video obtained by PSB shows Quinn being given a bottle of water from a firefighter before going into a nearby bar where he guzzled three pitchers of water and later vomited what he had consumed into a nearby trashcan.
SFFD Captain Matthew Schwartz testified in deposition that Quinn’s disappearance was a result of being told that he would have to submit to alcohol testing because the accident resulted in injuries. Quinn not only violated department policies by abandoning his apparatus following the collision but also by leaving the scene entirely without being released. According to fire department policies and California law, Quinn in effect admitted his guilt and intoxication while driving by fleeing the scene without permission and going AWOL for 90 minutes.
When Quinn did return to the fire station nearly two hours later, he failed three breathalyzer tests administered by fellow firefighters and initially refused to submit to a field sobriety test when requested by police. A blood draw later taken by SFPD, nearly seven hours after the accident, put Quinn’s BAC at 0.11.
San Francisco’s own expert toxicologists estimated Quinn’s BAC would have been 0.34 at the time of the collision, more than eight-times the legal limit for a fire truck operator.
Watch the ABC7 Bay Area News report here.
Listen to PSB attorney Spencer Lucas talk about the case on Gil & Rhoda here.