Judge denies Chief Brooks' motion to reargue lawsuit against City of Utica

Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks lost the latest round in his battle with the city on Thursday morning, but the chief says the war isn’t over yet.

Posted: Mar 15, 2018 1:43 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2018 5:34 PM

Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks lost the latest round in his battle with the city on Thursday morning, but the chief says the war isn’t over yet.

In State Supreme Court in Rome on Thursday, Brooks asked the judge to find that he’d made a mistake in his last ruling to dismiss Brooks' lawsuit and overturn his own decision, which didn’t happen.

In May 2017, Chief Brooks – a 42-year veteran of the Utica Fire Department – was placed on leave. The move came several months after Brooks said he applied for sick leave benefits, after he was diagnosed with leukemia related to his work in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Brooks’ request for benefits was denied by the city and he was paced on Section 72 Civil Service Law Leave of Absence, which requires him to use sick time. Brooks then filed a lawsuit against the city, and and in December 2017, a State Supreme Court judge ruled that Brooks never formally applied for sick leave benefits, and he dismissed the lawsuit.

In court on Thursday, the judge denied Brooks’ motion to reargue that last decision, saying he did not misconstrue the facts of the case or the law as it applies. Next, Brooks will have to submit an application for extended sick leave under New York General Municipal Law Section 92-d, which he and his attorney felt they’d already made.

"I'm disappointed, obviously,” Chief Brooks said "I'd like it to end. I'd like it to end, I'd like to go on with my life."

Brooks and his attorney will submit that application soon, and they say their next move depends on whether or not the city grants it. But they say this isn’t the end of the road, and Brooks says he’ll fight to the very end.

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