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Stuart Mintz sues North Bangor fire company, others

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Nov 08 2012 04:48:42 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 09 2012 10:27:21 AM CST
EASTON, Pa. -

A man who was a passenger in a fire truck that flipped over in Northampton County coming back from a parade two years ago is suing the assistant chief who was behind the wheel.

Stuart Mintz, of 17 Highland Court, Mount Bethel, Upper Mount Bethel Twp., Northampton Co., filed a civil suit Thursday in Northampton County Court against Zachary R. Romano, of 1769 Potomac St., Mount Bethel, Upper Mount Bethel Twp.

Mintz says in the suit that at about 9:15 p.m. July 10, 2010, he was returning from a fireman's parade in Tatamy, Northampton Co., riding in a fire truck that Romano was driving, when Romano lost control rounding a curve in the 5700 block of Kesslerville Road in Plainfield Twp., Northampton Co.

Romano drove off the road, the tanker flipped on its side, and Mintz fractured three vertebrae in his back, tore his right shoulder's rotator cuff and suffered a concussion, among other injuries, the suit says.

Mintz claims in his suit that Romano, who was 20 at the time, had been drinking throughout the day -- first at the North Bangor Fire Co. station at 301 Lake Minsi Drive, then while he was driving the truck in the parade and again at a celebration at the Tatamy Fire Hall after the parade. Mintz also claims that Romano stopped at Stockertown Beverage to buy a 30-pack of Coors Light during the 13-mile drive to the parade.

The suit says Mintz was doing maintenance work at the fire station on July 10 when he was assigned by Romano to ride in the tanker with him to the Tatamy parade.

Mintz says in his suit that Romano acted recklessly and negligently and was operating a commercial vehicle without proper training. It says that Romano was charged by police with drunken driving and other alcohol-related offenses.

The North Bangor Fire Co., its chief, Frederick Farleigh, of 2712 North Delaware Drive, Mount Bethel, and president, Christopher Louszko, of 774 Creek Road, Bangor, are also named as defendants in the suit, along with Upper Mount Bethel Twp. and its supervisors chairman, Edward Nelson.

Mintz says in his suit that they all knew Romano "had a history of heavy drinking and drinking and driving," adding they were, or should have been, responsible for  policies governing the fire company and screening applicants.

He also says the fire company created a "party atmosphere"; encouraged members to drink, and allowed them to operate fire vehicles with open containers of alcohol. In court papers, Mintz cites four parades from 2005 to 2011 where firefighters drove trucks after drinking at social events.

Mintz says in the suit that he still suffers from his injuries and has been unable to work. His wife, Paula, who is also a party to the suit, says she has been deprived of her husband's companionship. The Mintzes are asking more than $50,000 in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages and attorney's fees.

WFMZ.com reached out to Upper Mount Bethel Twp. manager Maureen Sterner, township attorney Kevin Lynch and North Bangor fire chief Farleigh, but they all declined to comment. Sterner and Lynch said they had not yet seen a copy of the suit.