Stock photo

Stock photo

Ex-Grand Forks firefighter drops lawsuit against two former colleagues

Plaintiff maintains his allegations against the city and two other firefighters

A former Grand Forks firefighter has dropped his civil suit against two ex-colleagues at Grand Forks Fire/Rescue, according to a recent filing with the Supreme Court of B.C.

READ MORE: Former Grand Forks firefighter suing department, city over alleged conspiracy, constructive dismissal

READ MORE: Grand Forks’ ex-fire chief responds to ex-firefighter’s lawsuit

The plaintiff, Leslie William Cleverly, filed suit in January 2021 against the City of Grand Forks (his former employer at the department), former chief Dale Heriot, Dep. Chief Rich Piché and firefighters Manfred Bialon and Letha Leber.

Former Asst. Fire Chief Manfred Bialon, pictured here at the scene of an August 2004 wildfire, retired from Grand Fork’s volunteer fire department in July 2021. Photo courtesy of Grand Forks Fire/Rescue

Former Asst. Fire Chief Manfred Bialon, pictured here at the scene of an August 2004 wildfire, retired from Grand Fork’s volunteer fire department in July 2021. Photo courtesy of Grand Forks Fire/Rescue

But a consent order filed Tuesday, March 1, with the Supreme Court in Kelowna shows Cleverly has dismissed his claims against Bialon and Leber. He intends to press his legal action against Heriot, Piché and the city, according to the same filing.

Cleverly alleges in his statement of claim that Heriot and Piché conspired to harm his reputation and cause him “mental distress” and “severe psychological injuries.” In particular, Cleverly contends that Heriot and Piché spread false rumours maligning his character.

Dep. Fire Chief Rich Piché, pictured at the scene of a November 2020 house fire in North Ruckle, has denied all of Cleverly’s allegations. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Dep. Fire Chief Rich Piché, pictured at the scene of a November 2020 house fire in North Ruckle, has denied all of Cleverly’s allegations. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

READ MORE: City of Grand Forks responds to lawsuit by former city firefighter

READ MORE: Former Grand Forks fire chief resolves lawsuit against city

The plaintiff further claims the city allowed “a toxic work environment” at the fire department, where Cleverly claims to have suffered bullying, harassment and threats. Cleverly contends the city constructively dismissed him after he raised concerns about department training protocols, in March 2019.

An independent workplace investigation later focused on some aspects of then Chief Heriot’s leadership, after which the city fired Heriot without cause. Heriot then sued the city for wrongful dismissal, but withdrew his suit in September 2021, having settled with the city out of court.

Cleverly is seeking damages against the remaining defendants. Heriot, Piché and the city have separately denied all of Cleverly’s claims in their responses to his lawsuit, challenging him to prove his case at trial.

None of Cleverly’s claims have been tested in court.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

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laurie.tritschler@boundarycreektimes.com

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