Salem Wrongful Death Suit Targets City, Fire Department

The family of a Salem firefighter who killed himself after being offered the choice of resignation or being fired from the department have filed an Oregon wrongful death suit against the city, according to a recent report in the Salem Statesman-Journal. The paper says that his family believes Craig Warren, a 20-year veteran of the city fire department, was neither properly treated by the department’s medical personnel when he began manifesting signs of mental illness, nor was he humanely treated by the department when it decided to discipline and, later, fire him.

“It’s our opinion that the way the city conducted the investigation of Mr. Warren, especially when they became aware that he was having some emotional difficulties, was very cruel,” the paper quotes the family’s attorney as saying. It also quotes city officials declining comment on the grounds that they were still examining the particulars of the Oregon wrongful death lawsuit.

According to the Statesman-Journal, the path to this Salem wrongful death case began when Warren was interviewed three times in 2009 by his departmental commanders and ordered to utilize the department’s employee assistance program, after they noticed that “he was disturbed,” had begun making “inappropriate comments” to colleagues and exhibited a high level of anxiety. At about the same time, the department underwent “a switch in psychiatrists (which) resulted in a medication mistake and Warren was not fully treated,” the paper reports.

Warren took his own life a few days after being ordered to resign or be fired.

It is difficult to look at an Oregon death of this type and not question the totality of the circumstances. From the perspective of a Portland wrongful death lawyer the reported facts raise a number of questions that require further investigation. Situations like this are ones where skilled legal assistance is critical for families attempting to gain some sense of both closure and justice in the wake of an unspeakable tragedy.

Salem Statesman-Journal: Firefighter’s Family Sues Salem Over Death